Nurses are Masters at the Fine Art of Caring

Choosing a Stethoscope

© 2012- present Kathy Quan RN BSN PHN ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
One of the most important pieces of equipment you will own and use as a nurse is your stethoscope. They range in price from a few dollars to several hundred dollars, so you need to know some of the basics before you buy one.

Your stethoscope will be used for taking blood pressures as well as listening to heart, lung, and bowel sounds.

Five Way Options for Students

As a student, you will need a stethoscope which gives you a broad range of assessment options for both adults and pediatrics, but you don't need to buy an expensive one to accomplish this. The Five Way stethoscope allows you to change the bell and or diaphragm for use on adults, infants or children. You can get one in a combo pack (see below). Once you have chosen an area of practice, you can choose from a vast array of general bell and diaphragm scopes.

ADC Nurse Combo-One 116-647BKQ - $38.00
Retail Price: $48.00
You Save: $10.00
from: The Medical Supply

Tubing Length Optional

The length of the tubing is a matter of choice, as is single or double tubing. Several studies have shown that the length makes no detectable difference in the transmission of sound. Longer tubing allows you to drape the scope over your neck or hang it from your neck and tuck the end into your pocket. This will help you to keep track of your stethoscope.

There are a range of tubing colors and covers or jackets to choose from. Recently however, there has been some study into the safety of stethoscope covers. Preliminary reports have indicated there may be some issues of transmission of germs and disease. Check with your institution's guidelines before buying and using covers.

Novelty Options

You can also find many novelty items for your stethoscope including diaphragms with designs such as smiley faces, animals, and cartoon characters. ANd your stethoscope can be used to hold items such as adhesive take. STAT GEAR has a terrific inexpensive tool for holding tape on your stethoscope.

Personalize It

The most important accessory you can purchase for your stethoscope is some form of identification. The best is to have it engraved with your name or initials. They do tend to walk. Doctors borrow them; nurses leave them at the bedside or on meal trays.

Having extra ear pieces and diaphragms is also well advised. The first time you find yourself without extras in a critical situation will be the last time you find yourself without them. These can usually be purchased at the same time, and some offer package deals.

Always clean off your earpieces with an alcohol swab before and after allowing anyone else to use your scope. And swab the bell and diaphragm with an alcohol swab between patients.

Warming the diaphragm in your hand before placing on the bare skin of your patient is a good practice to learn right away.

More information about other essential equipment you'll need as a nurse is discussed in Essentials for Nursing Students.