Finding the perfect stethoscope for nursing /medical school can feel like a stressful experience.
After-all there are tons of stethoscopes out on the market that range from under $20 to several hundred dollars, and even more for electronic stethoscopes.
This guide will help you choose a stethoscope that is right for you at an affordable price.
The stethoscopes range from around $19 – $79 depending on your budget and use case.
Here are our top 6 stethoscopes for nursing & medical students.
1. 3M Littmann Classic II S.E. Stethoscope
While one of the pricier stethoscopes in our line up 3m Littmann’s Classic II S.E. Stethoscope is a high quality and reliable device that’s priced at the low to mid range among the Littmann brand. Littmann is well known for making some of the best stethoscopes on the market and this one is no exception.
This stethoscope is designed with high acoustic sensitivity and features a dual-sided chest piece as is commonly used among most nursing / medical schools. The diaphragm is tunable with a simple pressure change allowing students to listen to either low or high-frequency sounds without having to turn their chestpiece over for varying ranges.
A non-chill rim allows the patient to remain comfortable while they are being treated and the headset is designed anatomically so that it can easily, accurately and comfortably fit the ear canal and allow for an optimal listening experience.
As with Littmann’s other stethoscopes this one is designed to be latex-free in order to prevent allergic reactions from sensitive users.
2. ADC ADSCOPE 603 Stainless Stethoscope
ADC is another well known maker of medical devices and their ADSCOPE 603 Stainless Stethoscope is a great option. This stethoscope features a stainless steel binaural with a reinforced yoke.
ADSOFT ear tips provide a great seal around the ears for maximal acoustic sound and are designed to remain comfortable whenever they are worn. The chest piece is dual sided with a combination bell and diaphragm for both high and low range sounds.
A non chill bell/diaphragm rim ensures that patients remain comfortable and won’t be shocked by a cold, metal rim. The ADC 603 stethoscope comes with a lifetime warranty on the metal parts, so you’ll have a little more confidence in buying this device.
3. Orman Sprague Rappaport Stethoscope
Ormon’s Sprague Rappaport Stethoscope has been featured as a #1 best seller in amazon.com’s stethoscopes category. This stethoscope is both affordable and well built.
It features a two channel design with dual lumen tubing that starts at the chest piece for optimal acoustic channeling. The double sided chest piece with a bell / diaphragm combo allows this stethoscope to be used efficiently among adults, pediatrics and infants.
This stethoscope includes three different sizes of open bells and two different sizes of diaphragm. It also comes with two pairs of eartips and a vinyl storage case for keeping your device clean and safe while you carry it around. All of the parts are designed to be latex-free in order to prevent allergies among users with a latex sensitivity.
4. MDF Acoustica Deluxe Lightweight Dual Head Stethoscope
The MDF Acoustica Deluxe Dual Head Stethoscope is an uncompromising all-purpose stethoscope that is designed with lightweight parts so that it’s comfortable for the user to wear throughout their shift or class.
The stethoscope is reinforced with a dual-leaf spring construction that doubles the durability of the materials while also allowing it to provide high quality sound performance.
A high quality, aluminum, dual-headed chest piece with a diaphragm / bell combination and non chill rim provide excellent sound amplification and isolation for better clarity.
Thick, dense latex-free PVC tubing also provides excellent acoustic performance and seals out unwanted ambient noises. This stethoscope includes 3 pairs of MDF ComfortSeal eartips that range from small to large in order to fit users of various sizes.
5. Dixie EMS Blood Pressure and Sprague Stethoscope Kit
Dixie’s EMS Blood Pressure and Sprague Stethoscope Kit is an inexpensive option for those looking to save on both medical devices. It comes with a matching blood pressure unit, sprague stethoscope and carrying bag. The blood pressure unit is designed with a nylon cuff, touch and hold closure, metal gauge and inflation system.
The stethoscope comes with a dual-sided chest piece and is designed with a 22″ tubing for comfortable listening. This kit also provides two diaphragms, three bells and two pairs of ear tips along with a carrying bag for easy mobility. If you’re in the market for an affordable stethoscope / blood pressure kit than this one might be a great option.
6. R.A. Bock Cardiology Dual-Head Stethoscope w/ Stainless Steel Chestpiece
RA Bock Diagnostics Cardiology Stethoscope features a dual-headed stainless steel chest piece with a tunable diaphragm that can be changed by applying pressure to the device. The chest piece comes with a non-chill rim to prevent patient shock and minimize discomfort.
RA Bock Diagnostics stethoscope is cardiology focused and designed to capture both high and low frequency sounds. A double-leaf binaural spring is incorporated into the stethoscope for easy adjustment and the tubing is a dual side by side design that’s sealed in a single tube for superior sound quality and minimal acoustic interference.
How to choose a stethoscope for nursing / medical school
When choosing a quality stethoscope for school there are a number of things you should consider in order to make the best purchase.
Factors such as the stethoscopes price, design, weight, build quality and acoustic quality should all be considered as they can vary from device to device.
As mentioned earlier all of the stethoscopes here are great options at different price ranges and build qualities based on your personal needs.
If you don’t mind spending the extra money a good quality stethoscope such as the ones sold by 3M Littmann are often made using premium components that are designed to provide the best acoustic quality and last longer, so if you are serious about finishing school and working in the medical field a good quality stethoscope may be worth the price if you can afford it.
Not only will you be sure that you’re using a great device, you’ll also be able to save money later on as you won’t need to replace your device as frequently or buy a new one after nursing / medical school.
Determine what is most important to you
Determining what is most important to you is the first step in picking out a good stethoscope.
If you are always using your stethoscope or wearing it in your ears or around your neck then the weight of the device may be very important as it can become uncomfortable after long periods of use.
If you find yourself having difficulty hearing sounds than you may want to invest in a higher end stethoscope that’s designed to isolate and amplify sounds better.
For those who are working in fields where they are dealing with a range of patients it would be wise to think about and consider whether a pediatric, cardiology or all in one stethoscope works best for you.
Build quality and warranty should also be considered when choosing a device as you’ll likely want one that doesn’t need to be replaced or have its parts replaced too often.
If you do have to replace your parts, having a good warranty can save you some hassle as well as some hard earned cash.
Set a realistic price range
While you may want to jump ahead and spring for the most expensive or least expensive stethoscope decide on what you can afford first and don’t be afraid to pay for what best serves your needs, not what looks like its the best price for you.
If you purchase a stethoscope that’s really inexpensive there is a good chance that you’ll be sacrificing quality, both material and audible quality, so make sure you do your research if you are going to buy something unexpectedly low cost.
On the other hand you likely don’t need to spend $100 to get a decent stethoscope with durable parts and great sound acoustics. While it might be nice to have something that’s premium built it may not yield much of an advantage in daily school use.
In fact most students can get a quality stethoscope for under $50 and don’t need to go all out, however if you do have the money and know a trusted brand that works well for you than go for it.
Ask your teacher or advanced medi
cal students which stethoscopes they use
If you’ve looked at dozens of stethoscopes and still have difficulty choosing one that’s right for you than consider asking your teachers and classmates which ones they prefer.
You can often find good insights into why a particular stethoscope works so well for them.
Classmates and teachers are often the perfect consumers to ask because they have experience buying stethoscopes and can tell you if one is better than the other, especially when it comes to factors such as price, acoustic quality and durability.
You may be surprised by what they picked and how much it cost them to purchase.
Perhaps they’ll even let you use their stethoscope so you can test it out for yourself.
Just be sure to replace the ear tips with your own and clean the device when returning it.
Online Customer Reviews
The last thing you can do to help you choose a decent stethoscope is to check out online customer reviews from websites such as amazon.com
These websites may have hundreds or even thousands of reviews from people who purchased a stethoscope you’re interested in buying.
In many cases reading reviews will educate you to things you may not have considered about the stethoscope such as its tube length, headset angle or diaphragm shape, which may be bigger deciding factors than you originally thought.
When reading reviews try to make sure you look at both the positive and negative reviews to get a better overall understanding of the product, and be cautious of any review that seems unauthentic or made up.
Looking for verified reviews is a good way to have a little more assurance that the review is authentic as they go through a more stringent process before getting approved.
Frequently Asked Questions
Whether you own a stethoscope or your interested in buying one there are some common questions that get asked about them, so we’ve decided to dedicate a page that provides answers to some of the most frequency questions.
This article will provide information how to choose a stethoscope, how to maintain it and how to sell it when you’re done with it.
We’ll also discuss the components of the stethoscope and how to replace them and what a dual-headed stethoscope and an electronic stethoscope is.
How much do stethoscopes cost?
The price of a stethoscope can vary greatly anywhere from $20 – $300 or more depending on the stethoscopes material, features and brand.
For example there are a number of good beginner/student stethoscopes on the market that can be purchased for $20 – $40 and work great in general settings where medical professionals need to listen to the most common sounds.
Higher end stethoscopes that are designed for specific uses such as cardiology or pediatric care may cost medical professionals a little more money because of their material and function.
In most cases individuals can purchase a quality stethoscope for around $40 – $80 based on their work function and personal needs.
Electronic stethoscopes can be priced even higher due to their electronic components and specialized function.
These stethoscopes may cost more, however they allow medical professionals to significantly amplify the sounds they’re hearing, which can be highly beneficial if they work in a loud atmosphere or have hearing difficulties.
Should I buy a cheap or expensive stethoscope?
The amount of money you need to spend for a good stethoscope will depend on your personal/work needs.
As mentioned earlier most working professionals can get a quality stethoscope for around $40 – $80 dollars, however if you’re a student or working in a general field you can probably get decent use out of a $20 – $40 stethoscope.
In these cases stethoscopes price may will likely vary due to the quality of the bell/diaphragm and the materials its made out of with more expensive stethoscopes likely utilizing lighter and/or more durable materials.
Once you begin looking at stethoscopes over $80 you’re probably looking at ones that are used for specialized medical purposes or are electronic / digital in nature.
Where can I buy a stethoscope?
There are a number of online retailers that sell stethoscopes along with eCommerce sites such as overstock.com and Amazon.com.
In addition to purchasing them online you may find some sold at local stores such as Walgreen’s and Walmart.
Prior to buying any stethoscope on or offline you should be sure to do your due diligence and research the stethoscope in order to make sure it will meet your needs.
Which stethoscope is best for me?
The stethoscope that is best for your needs will depend on what you’ll be using it for daily.
If you work with with infants and small children then you may want to look at pediatric stethoscopes that are designed for particular type of work.
If you work in a cardiologist office or deal with patients suffering from heart problems then it might make sense to research cardiology stethoscopes.
If you operate in a loud environment, require really precise sound oscillation or have trouble hearing through regular stethoscopes than an electronic stethoscope may make your job a little easier.
If you are a student or just starting out in your nursing career than a basic $20 – $40 stethoscope might do the trick, however if you have the extra money and want to get something nice than you can also spring for a higher end stethoscope that is made with better sound acoustics and stronger, lightweight metals.
One of the best ways to get advice on choosing a good stethoscope is to ask those around you who are in the same line of work as you what stethoscope they use and what they like/hate about their stethoscope.
What is a dual-headed stethoscope?
Dual-headed stethoscopes are designed to give the user the ability to listen to a specific area and hear a wider range of sound frequencies.
These stethoscopes may come with a dual-sided large / small diaphragm, which provides a wider / narrow sound range and frequency, or come in a diaphragm / bell combination where the bell allows the user to listen to the lowest range of sounds.
What are the parts of a stethoscope?
A stethoscope can be broken down into several parts that may be replaced or interchanged depending on the maker and the design of the stethoscope.
These parts may include:
- Ear tips
- Binaurals – (the metal parts that extend from the ear-tip to the tubing)
- Tubing – (the rubber material that transfers sound from the diaphragm to the ears)
- Stem – (the metal part that connects the tubing to the chest-piece)
- Chest-piece – (composed of a diaphragm and/or bell)
- Ball bearing – (allows the user to switch auditory sounds between the diaphragm and bell)
Each of these components may be sold separately in higher end stethoscopes that are made to last longer or serve multiple uses.
What are the advantages of an electronic / digital stethoscope?
The primary advantages of an electronic stethoscope is its ability to amplify sound, improved sound oscillation for better clarity, better frequency control and digital display feedback.
These stethoscopes are great for cardiologist specialists or respiratory therapists that need to be able to tune into specific sounds and/or want gain additional insights about a patients medical condition through a visual digital display.
While there are definitely some advantages to using an electronic / digital stethoscope most healthcare professionals will not need to purchase one as these stethoscopes aren’t needed for most basic assessments.
If on the other hand a specialist does have the money and/or needs a really acute listening device these stethoscopes may just provide the additional functionality they need to get the most out of their work.
How do I clean my stethoscope?
In most cases individuals who purchase/use stethoscopes should follow the cleaning instructions that are packaged with their stethoscope.
In many situations it is recommended that a stethoscope should be cleaned with alcohol wipes, 70% isopropyl alcohol solution or specially designed stethoscope cleaners.
Be sure to wipe down the stethoscope with non-invasive cleaning agents as some chemicals such as nail polish remove may harm, discolor or degrade the stethoscopes tubing and/or other materials.
Do not submerge or immerse your stethoscope in any chemicals while cleaning it as this may cause issues with sound quality and potentially harm the stethoscope.
Also make sure you keep your stethoscope away from extremely hot or cold environments and/or chemicals as they may damage or degrade the quality of the stethoscope.
Lastly, the stethoscopes earpieces can and should be removed during cleaning.
Dirty earpieces can typically be replaced at a fairly inexpensive cost rather than being cleaned and reused if they get too dirty/damaged.
Why is my stethoscope discolored?
There are a number of reasons your stethoscope may be discolored.
Some factors that are known to cause discoloration of a stethoscope may include:
- Product material
- Cleaning chemicals
- Environmental overexposure
Low quality materials – Stethoscopes made out of inexpensive, low quality material may simply discolor with age and through normal usage. In this case there is nothing you have done to cause the discoloration as its simply a characteristic of that model.
Harsh / abrasive cleaning chemicals – If you use harsh chemicals when cleaning your stethoscope you damage it or cause discoloration. To avoid this only use chemicals that have been approved by the manufacturer, which you can usually find online or in the instruction manual.
Environmental overexposure – Exposing your stethoscope to hot, cold, or damp environments or leaving it in direct sunlight may eventually cause discoloring. To avoid this try keeping your stethoscope in carrying case and don’t leave it in an environment where it will be exposed to extreme temperatures, such as in your car during the summer.
How do I fix a broken stethoscope?
If you damage a component of your stethoscope and want to replace it you should check the online manufacturer/sellers website to see if they offer replacement parts or see if its mentioned in the instruction manual.
Many high end stethoscopes come with parts that can be replaced and interchanged when it becomes necessary.
Less expensive stethoscopes may not offer any replacement parts or only allow standard components such as the ear tips to be replaced.
If you do need to replace a part decide which component needs replacement.
This may include:
- Ear tips
- Chest-piece (composed of a diaphragm and/or bell)
- Ball bearing (allows the user to switch auditory sounds between the diaphragm and bell)
Once you’ve found the part that needs to be replaced you can order it online from the manufacturer or retailer (if it’s available), however you’ll want to make sure it’s compatible with the stethoscope you own as different brands/model may be designed differently.
Lastly, the instructions for replacing the component will likely be mailed with the replacement part, however if it isn’t you can always contact the manufacturer / seller for specifics on how to replace it.
How do I sell my old stethoscope?
If you’ve maintained your stethoscopes condition and want to sell it you can try selling it through a number of online and offline channels such as:
- Online – eBay, Craigslist, Facebook etc…
- Colleges / Universities – Flyers, school webpages, email etc…
- Person to person – Students, coworkers and other medical professionals
Depending on your available time and personality each of these methods can be an effective way to sell your old/used stethoscope or other medical gear, just make sure you properly clean your stuff and replace any bad components before you sell it.
Selling your stethoscope (especially a high quality one) allows others to purchase one at a discounted price, and can help offset the cost of you buying a new stethoscope.