Nurses are some of the most battle-ready people in the world. They’re always on the go, always taking care of people with poor health and always adapting to difficult work schedules. That said, this job is not a walk in the park. It takes a lot of patience and dedication in order to become a skilled and competent nurse.
With this in mind, nurses need all the help they can get. That includes getting the best nursing gears, equipments and gadgets to aid them in their every day battles. One of the most basic things a nurse should own is a stethoscope.
It’s best to have your very own stethoscope so you can choose a great brand with the features that will allow you to have the most accurate readings. In a place as busy as a hospital, having a stethoscope that offers loud and clear acoustics can really come handy.
There are so many stethoscope brands out there. Because of that, you might find yourself overwhelmed with your vast number of choices. It’s so confusing to pick just one brand, especially when all your choices seem amazing.
This is why it is recommended to read reviews to know what people are saying about stethoscopes. Narrow down your options to the brand that suits your aesthetic requirements, the features you really need and your budget range. Make sure it’s also a brand that has been approved by other nurses and doctors.
One of the things you should consider when buying is the type of stethoscope to invest on. The simplest and the most popular is the acoustic type. This stethoscope follows the original functions and design of this medical tool. It makes use of hollow tubes to carry sound from the chest piece to the ear piece.
The second type is the electronic stethoscope. It’s different from the acoustic in such a way that it converts the sounds depicted from the body into electronic signals. It’s easier to make accurate measurements with this tool because the sounds are more amplified. On the other hand, they’re generally pricier compared to the average acoustic.
There are also electronic stethoscopes capable of recording sounds. This can be used if the doctor needs to secure a second opinion from other physicians using the recorded sound as a reference. This is also great for nurses who want to review the recordings later on to check for accuracy.
Last is the fetal type of stethoscope. Like the name suggests, this medical equipment is used to check the sounds from a pregnant woman’s womb. It is used to check the heart rate of the fetus inside the womb.
If you’re ready to know what your best stethoscope options are, we narrowed it down to these highly-rated medical equipments:
Top 10 Best Stethoscopes for Nurse 2016
1. 3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E.
Key Features: This is an entry-level stethoscope with the simplest and the most straightforward of features. It boasts of loud and clear acoustic. The tunable, non-chill diaphragm is shaped like a tear drop to make it easier to fit under blood pressure cuffs. The headset is angled for optimum comfort. This tool weighs only 9.1 ounces.
Pros: This is one of the cheapest stethoscopes out there that still has very reliable features. This is great not just for nurses but also for nursing students who don’t have a budget for pricier stethoscopes. The diaphragm can be easily tuned to get the best acoustics. The earpiece sits comfortably around the neck or the ears so you can wear it all day and not feel constricted.
Cons: It might not be the best stethoscope to use on overweight patients or those people who have thick adipose breast tissue.
2. Omron Sprague Rappaport
Key Features: Here’s another entry-level stethoscope featuring split, dual-type tubing and a circular chest piece. The tubes are made from latex, which should be great in preventing skin allergies, if the user has one. This thing weighs 9.6 pounds – very lightweight and easy to lug around all day.
Pros: This is a great buy for nurses on a very tight budget. It’s cheap, does its job well and has a lightweight feature that you would appreciate every time you use it. Despite its cheap price point, it doesn’t lack in performance. The acoustic sound it emits is loud and audible even when you’re working in a noisy environment. This can also double as a fetal stethoscope.
Cons: It has double tubing, which can be an issue to some nurses because of the “rubbing” effect. Some people have remedied this problem by using a duct tape to secure the tubes together and prevent the tubes from bumping together and causing noise.
3. 3M Littmann Master Classic II
Key Features: This stethoscope comes in a variety of fun colors. Like many Littmann products, it delivers well in acoustic performance. The diaphragm is completely tunable. Just a change in pressure will allow you to switch from low to high frequency. The diaphragm also has a non-chill feature which will optimize the comfort of patients. The tubes are devoid of latex to avoid allergic reactions.
Pros: This stethoscope lasts for a long time! Its durable functions can be used for years without seeing any signs of wear and tear. The earpiece is very comfortable, even after hours of use. The acoustics are loud, clear and audible, even when using it in noisy settings. And for a mid-range stethoscope, this is an inexpensive choice.
Cons: While the whole stethoscope is ergonomic, it doesn’t please much when it comes to weight. Some complained about it being slightly heavy, especially after hours of use.
4. 3M Littmann Classic II S.E.
Key Features: This has one of the widest color range in stethoscopes. The circular, non-chill diaphragm is completely tunable. Change the pressure to switch from low to high frequency. The ear piece is ergonomically angled to achieve the best comfort. The rubber tubing is latex-free as well. The whole product weighs 11.2 ounces.
Pros: This has a great price for a mid-range stethoscope – even nurses on a budget will find the price accessible. It is worth investing on because of its sturdy design that will last you for years (some even claim they have this for over a decade already). The acoustic can actually rival more expensive Cardiology stethoscopes.
Cons: The rubber tubing can easily get dirty. Clothes can also stain it. Also, if you’re planning to use this as a fetal stethoscope, it is probably not the best option.
5. Dixie EMS Blood Pressure and Sprague Stethoscope Kit
Key Features: This is a kit that comes complete with a blood pressure unit and a stethoscope. These can all be neatly stored in the bag included. The stethoscope is a Sprague Rappaport type that features 22-inch long double tubing.
Pros: This should be one of the best deals for nurses or nursing students on a tight budget. It’s very cheap for a product that offers two gadgets but it actually has very reliable features. The stethoscope has clear and audible acoustics. They don’t look and feel cheap at all and they’re even comparable in quality to their more expensive counterparts. The purple color would probably appeal to a lot of female nurses – very vibrant so you can easily tell it’s your stethoscope.
Cons: It’s probably not the most ergonomic choice out there. If you have sensitive ears, the earpiece can turn uncomfortable easily. It’s also a tad heavier than the previous models.
6. 3M Littmann Classic III
Key Features: A wide range of colors is available for this stethoscope. It has a classic design that features a two-sided, completely tunable chest piece diaphragm. There is a pediatric diaphragm included. The rubber tubing is made from oil-resistant materials. It’s very lightweight at only 5.3 ounces.
Pros: Very good price with reliable acoustic sensitivity. It’s also very versatile so you can easily switch it from an adult stethoscope to a pediatric one depending on your needs. The diaphragm is easy to clean and maintain and doesn’t get damaged easily even with regular use. The tubes are also resistant to stains. There are so many colors to choose from.
Cons: The tubes are slightly shorter than the typical Littmann stethoscope. This might be a tad uncomfortable for the user who would have to inch closer to the patient to get better access. Also, some nurses might find the price a little too expensive for their budget.
7. 3M Littmann Cardiology III
Key Features: This stethoscope comes complete with a versatile chest piece system that allows the easy switching from adult to pediatric stethoscope use. It responds easily to pressure change so the user can switch from low frequency to high frequency with ease. There is a non-chill bell sleeve included for optimum user comfort. It also features a dual lumen designs to eliminate background noise completely.
Pros: This model sure delivers the most excellent acoustic quality. It’s a perfect fit for those with a slight hearing problem. Even the softest of murmurs can be heard through this model. Everything is built to last – this can withstand every day use and can last for years. It also has adequate length, perfect for maintaining a nice space between the user and the patient. It has a secure feeling around the neck and doesn’t weigh down too much.
Cons: Definitely more on the pricey side of the spectrum.
8. ADC Adscope 609ST
Key Features: It is a stethoscope for adult use only. It is lightweight and offers a larger bell for better usage. It also features a non-chill bell for your patient’s comfort and a nice angled binaurals for your comfort. The rubber tubing features 22 inches of PVC custom molded to the stethoscope to get more longevity.
Pros: This is one of the longest stethoscopes you can find in the market with its 31 inches of length. The features made sure the user and the patient will have the best comfort. It also comes with a limited warranty so you can get the most out of your money. Many people would compare its acoustics to Littmann products, which are arguably the best out there.
Cons: Its functions are quite limited to adult use only. It’s also not the best for veterinary or cardiology use.
9. Prestige Medical Clinical Life
Key Features: With its 4 ounces of weight, this stethoscope is one of the lightest out there. Crafted from anodized aluminium, this tool is guaranteed to make the stethoscope last for a long time. The hot pink color attracts attention and preserves the uniqueness of the medical tool.
Pros: First of all, this stethoscope is really cheap. It’s a nice starter stethoscope to buy for beginners or nursing students. The color gives it more distinction so you’re not always worried about someone mistaking this as theirs. Construction-wise, you can’t go wrong with it – it’s really durable and lightweight so it’s comfortable to wear all day. Acoustic quality is up to par.
Cons: If you’re looking for cardiology-level acoustics, this isn’t the stethoscope for you. The sound waves are competent as an entry-level stethoscope, great for simple usage but probably not great for cardiology use.
10. ADC Platinum Edition ADSCOPE 615
Key Features: This stethoscope features a diaphragm encased in a gasket – a feature meant to deliver better frequency response with just a change in hand pressure. The diaphragm also boasts of a non-chill feature for the comfort of the patient. The eartips have been designed to maximize user comfort so this can be worn all day minus ear fatigue.
Pros: This stethoscope is definitely user-friendly. The acoustics are loud and very easy to hear even to aging users with slight hearing problems. The chest piece’s oval shape makes this easier to use with a blood pressure kit. It doesn’t feel and look inexpensive – quite the opposite in fact. Some would even compare this to the pricier Littmann stethoscopes.
Cons: It’s probably not the most lightweight of stethoscopes out there. There may be some discomforts due to its weight after a whole day of using this.
At the end of the day, the stethoscope you should pick still depends on your needs. They all have similar features but they differ in performance. If you’re not really looking for a high-end model and you just want an entry-level stethoscope that does the job well, a nice beginner or mid-range stethoscope is right for you.
If budget is not an issue and you really want top-notch quality and performance in your stethoscope, you should consider investing on the more expensive models that will guarantee clearer acoustics. They’re perfect to use for busier and noisier settings and they can last for a long time in terms of durability.
Also look for warranty. Just in case you have problems with the stethoscope you got, you still have something to back you up. A good company will always have a warranty for their products. It’s a tell-tale sign that you’re getting a good brand.