The best stethoscope will depend on the type of work that you perform on a regular basis.
When buying a stethoscope ask yourself, do you treat pediatric patients, work mostly with adults or do you specialize in a field such as cardiology?
Depending on your work their are a variety of stethoscopes that are designed to deal with each type of situation.
Cardiology stethoscopes for example are designed to deal with a wide range of heart sounds and a good one will have strong oscillation properties that will minimize sound interference.
In fact in many cases nurses and doctors choose cardiology stethoscopes because of their sound quality and frequency range.
If you work in an ambulance or in a loud environment where there are a lot of noisy distractions than you may prefer to choose an electronic stethoscope, which is capable of amplifying the sounds it receives. These stethoscopes are also great from medical professionals that are dealing with hearing difficulties.
Nursing students or those who work in quieter environments may opt for a less expensive stethoscope that has decent sound oscillation, but may be made with heavier/less durable materials.
Each stethoscope that is available on the market has its own pros and cons depending on its use case, so make sure you determine what you’ll be using it for before making the purchase.
There are a number of specialized stethoscopes available for purchase such as:
- Pediatric stethoscopes
- Adult care stethoscopes
- Cardiology stethoscopes
- Electronic stethoscopes
- EMT/EMS stethoscopes
- Anesthesiologist stethoscopes
Remember to keep these things in mind when choosing a stethoscope.
What type of environment will you be working in?
Will you be working in a quite setting, the emergency room, ambulatory care or pediatrics?
Understanding your environment can have a huge impact on the stethoscope that will work best for you and help you determine if you need a stethoscope with higher sound amplification or if a standard stethoscope will work best.
If you work in a loud environment than an electronic stethoscope may improve your ability to listen to specific sounds, however if you work in a doctors office you may want to go with a non electronic stethoscope that’s lighter and less expensive.
What type of patients will you be caring for?
Are you typically dealing with infants and children, adults or patients suffering from heart problems?
Some stethoscopes are designed to listen better to certain frequencies better than others.
For example if you’re dealing with children and infants rather than a pediatric stethoscope may be better than one for an adult and vice versa.
The best stethoscope will be the one that works best for helping you determine your patients medical condition.
What is your budget?
A big part of choosing and buying a stethoscope is deciding how much you’re willing to pay for one.
The good news is most expensiveness stethoscope isn’t always going to be the best one for the job just as the cheapest one may not work for your situation either.
There are a number of factors besides a stethoscopes sound quality and oscillation that can affect its price such as its weight, sound components (bell and/or diaphragm) and brand.
Deciding what qualities are important to you in a stethoscope will help you determine a good price range for the type of stethoscope you’ll want to use.
For example if you want a stethoscope that’s made of strong lightweight materials then you may be willing to pay a little extra for a stethoscope that’s made out of aluminum rather than heavier metals.
If you prefer a throwaway or replaceable stethoscope that you’ll swap out in a year or so than a cheaper, heavier one may be a better choice.
Brand can also be a factor in pricing as some brands can demand a higher price tag than others.
Brands that are well known for producing high quality stethoscopes may be worth the extra money, however be sure to review the brand and get a good understanding of the quality of their stethoscopes before buying one simply because of its name.
here are some factors that can affect the price of a stethoscope:
- Material (plastic, steel, aluminum)
- Ear buds
- Tube length & thickness
- Quality / durability
- Bell and/or diaphragm
- Electronic components
- Maker / brand
While everyone has different needs when it comes to buying a stethoscope spending a little more money to invest in a stethoscope that is lightweight and offers high durability is a safe bet and may save you money down the line when it comes to replacements and putting a little less strain on your neck.
Keep your stethoscope clean & safe
Once you choose a good stethoscope you’ll want to make sure you keep it clean and safe in order to prolong its life and save you money.
Purchasing a decent stethoscope cover, name tag and cleaning supplies can help extend the life of your stethoscope.
Some brands also sell replacement/interchangeable parts that cost far less than buying a new stethoscope.
For instance some stethoscopes have replaceable bells, diaphragms and ear tips that can easily be swapped out if the old ones go bad.
This is a very cost effective way to maintain an otherwise good stethoscope.
When purchasing cleaning supplies make sure they are non invasive and will not harm the stethoscopes materials (such as the line/tubing) or de-color it as you’ll want to maintain both its appearance and overall lifespan.
Lastly, rather than throwing out your old stethoscope when you purchase a new one you may be able to sell it for a decent price by keeping your stethoscope in good condition working condition, especially if it’s still worth a lot new when you sell it.
You can replace or remove the ear-tips, clean (sanitize) the tubing, diaphragm and metal components, and sell it either online or to a coworker/student that wants a good stethoscope, but can’t afford to, or doesn’t want to pay for a brand new one.
Here are some accessories you can purchase with your stethoscope to prolong your stethoscopes life, improve its performance/effectiveness, keep it clean and ensure it doesn’t get lost.
Accessories to consider:
- Name tag/badge – (help keep track of your stethoscope, especially if it gets lost)
- Carrying case – (keeps your stethoscope clean and safe)
- Additional diaphragm/bell – (can replace damaged/dysfunctional components)
- Scope light – (adds an additional layer of functionality to your stethoscope)
- Stethoscope cleaner – (keeps it clean)
- Disinfectant / alcohol wipes – (keeps it sanitized)
You definitely don’t have to buy any or all of these items, but they may be worth consider before you use, replace or sell your stethoscope.