What You Need to Know When Choosing Your First Stethoscope

From the moment you enter medical school, you look forward to the day that you get your first stethoscope. Like a wand to a wizard, the stethoscope is the symbol that you have arrived, and that you can finally start using your hard-earned skills in the real world.

Your first stethoscope is an important decision; here’s what you need to know to make it right:

Important Criteria for Choosing Your First Stethoscope

When the time comes to finally buying your first stethoscope, the confusion arrives. You see different doctors wearing different stethoscopes, your seniors give different bits of advice, your friends search in google and come with conflicting reviews, you yourself search and get confused. In the end, it becomes a massive dilemma as to what to buy.

Long Term or Short Term?

First thing first, you have to decide whether you are buying your stethoscope for temporary use or for a long-term use. Some students decide that they will buy a stethoscope to use while they are in college, and they will invest in buying a good one when they are actually out there in the hospitals. So you have to be very clear as to what is the purpose. Is it long term or short term?

Know your Budget

You need to know what your budget is. You have to make up your mind on how much you want to spend on this and again this connects with the decision you take as to whether this is a long-term or a short-term investment. If it’s a short-term investment, then you don’t have to go for a big budget. You can manage easily. So this is an important decision you need to make.

Remember The Purpose of the Tool

Most importantly you should remember why you need a stethoscope in the first place. We need it to hear the sound of the heartbeat or the sounds inside a patient’s body. The first thing you need to do when you’re testing a new one is to listen to your own heartbeat and see how loud it is. It should not be like whispering. It should be like someone talking next to you. There is a critical difference because if you can’t hear clearly you want be able to make accurate diagnoses.

Is the Tubing Stiff?

If the tubing of the stethoscope is stiff that is not a great sign. Hang it vertically and see whether there are any bends. Squeeze it and see whether a bend stays there permanently or whether it is flexible enough. If there is an issue with the tube that can affect the long term functionality of the equipment.

Are The Ear-tips Comfortable?

When you are a doctor you’ll be wearing your stethoscope for hours on end, so it’s important that the ear-tips are comfortable. Check whether the ear-tips hurt you and if they do then means it will make you uncomfortable over time and that’s the last thing you need at the end of an 18 hour shift at the emergency room!

Does the Headset Fit?

You should be able to adjust the headset so that it fits and it’s comfortable. You should be able to gently squeeze the ear-tips and adjust the headset so that it fits comfortably and does not hurt you.

Is it too Heavy?

It is important that your stethoscope is light. If it is too heavy when the days are hectic it will be a trouble for you. So try to go for a lighter stethoscope.

Ok, now it’s up to you to make your own choice! The wand may choose the wizard, but as a doctor you need to make sure you have the right equipment for the job. Hopefully this list of criteria will help you choose a first stethoscope that you will be able to wear with confidence and pride.

USE IT or LOSE IT, future Docs!

Have you all ever heard the phrase: “If you don’t use it, you lose it”? To what degree is this true? When it comes to medical knowledge, it makes perfect sense–specially by considering the amount of info involved.

Each med student has many tasks to deal with so keeping up with the updates and refreshing one’s core knowledge doesn’t seem that easy. Yet, it isn’t that hard if you integrate it into your lifestyle. In view that what works for some doesn’t work for everyone, I’ll present a few best practices for you to decide wisely.

Try to think of knowledge as a lifestyle

In fact, learning should be a lifelong practice; just like the lifestyle changes you’ll be asking patients to make when they are diagnosed with a chronic condition. Let’s put it simple: make it a habit naturally incorporated into your daily life and then it won’t look so overwhelming.

If you are not the kind of student who likes sitting down with a pile of books in a room at the end of the day or during breakfast/lunch/dinner, you might be one of those who prefers learning while being on the go. For example, you could do it on the elliptical machine at the gym or on your daily bus/tram commute. As you sweat it out on the machine, you’ll absorb relevant information that could be beneficial afterwards.

While exercising, you could also listen to specific podcasts. Some suggestions are the New England Journal of Medicine podcast with Steve Morrissey or the one with Joe Elia: NEJM Journal Watch, as well as general news podcasts from NPR or The Economist. It’s not about listening to them all every day; just some of it.

Your smartphone can turn into a useful learning tool while commuting

For instance, you may read Journal Watch content in general medicine, hospital medicine, diabetes, etc. This method might be interesting for those who hear something once and don’t have it down cold, so they need to reinforce the information they get (e.g. some of the daily headlines from First Watch get explored further in Journal Watch stories).

Others are more of visual learners and for that, I would recommend using some question banks as you’d be able to go through a great deal of questions at a manageable pace. You’d also have more time to review what you didn’t answer right. Speeding up your test-taking skills is as critical as increasing your knowledge, as advised by Judi Kesselman-Turkel & Franklynn Peterson in their bestseller work Testtaking Strategies.

Keeping up with the latest information is just part and parcel of the job, and that’s when Qupi enters the game. It makes students review essential topics; the core medical info that is to be constantly reviewed if you want to be a respectful clinician right after your med studies. I believe that is your main goal, isn’t it?

It may sound like doing all this means spending countless hours on learning

Yet, it’s not really the case. It amounts to maybe 15 minutes a day (or a bit more depending on your availability). Just put in a little time up front by signing up for alerts from products like Qupi and it will all come to you. My advice to someone who thinks this is too much work: start small, and build a habit. Don’t bite off more than you can chew (:

Some YouTube channels are handy too

For example, Future Doc House explains medical issues and shares the knowledge he gained through his medical studies. You can also find material linked with microbiology via easy-to-understand and straight-to-the-point practical videos. In this way, you’d benefit from the net.

Go find the sources that suit you better and discover your personalized routine (remember not to compare yourself though, as per my previous article). Once you set it up, sticking to it turns out not to be that tough.

Does any of the recommendations above make sense at all? If so (or if not) please leave your comment or any doubt/question below. A last phrase I’d like you to remember: practice makes perfect, so keep trying and assess your own outcome as you move forward. To subscribe to Qupi, click on the link that follows => Continue with Facebook

5 Tips for New Medical Students

What advice could I possibly give to fresh students of medicine?

I mean, I didn’t go for medical studies (and don’t plan to do so, to be honest). However, I hold a translation diploma and I’m currently studying a master in communication. Thus, I believe you guys will find this article useful and if so, might somehow apply some of these 5 tips for new medical students. In case you are still skeptical, I’ve also asked among the doctors and medical students that I know and most of them agreed on the following:

1) Don’t let yourself down

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dissapointed - new medical students

Don’t let yourself down – 5 Tips for New Medical Students – courtesy of flickr.com.

[/custom_frame_center] Medicine is tough and so is translation (and many other degrees). Even if you didn’t perform as well as you thought you would, smile and move on. You may have tried hard but we are all humans with our ups and downs. Hence, do your best without getting discouraged. One does not need to be the best in every single subject; you’ll like some more than others… and it’s perfectly fine! Look: the person who graduates with the lowest grades will still be a doctor. Just put some effort and you’ll get there someday.

2) Avoid learning by heart

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bookworm - learning by heart

Avoid learning by heart – 5 Tips for New Medical Students – “Bookworm” Carl Spitzweg painting.

[/custom_frame_center] Learning, from Venezuela to Poland, should be about understanding the concepts, not memorizing the words. “What is Luis writing about? C’mon, there’s no other way to study anatomy without cramming!” The truth is that there is, in spite of the long texts you must go through (trust me: I’ve learned a couple of languages this way). For that, I would recommend you all read texts in advance the actual lecture so you are ready to ask specific questions to your professors (and you’ll remember things in the long term).

3) “Focus on me” (as Ariana Grande’s hit)

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ariana grande - focus on me - 5 Tips for New Medical Students

Ariana Grande – 5 Tips for New Medical Students – courtesy of flickr.com

[/custom_frame_center] Are you overwhelmed by all your medical learning material? There's an easier way - learn more When I was in the translation and interpreting school, I didn’t have the distraction of a smartphone (I only had a BlackBerry: it was the fad of my university times!). Do you really have to check your Facebook account every minute? If you decided to go for medicine, then focus on it as much as you can (whether you attend a lecture or study by yourself). I’m not urging you not to use your smartphone at all: just try to do “smart” things with it such as visiting the largest user-generated medical question database: Qupi.com

4) Go green by recycling

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recycling - 5 Tips for New Medical Students

Go green by recycling – 5 Tips for New Medical Students.

[/custom_frame_center] Ask advanced students for the tests they had. By learning the concepts from previous exams, you are on the right track to learning properly—and therefore passing your tests. I know professors like to ask about the most important aspects of given subjects (and if they decided to go into details, you’d already have the whole idea because you wouldn’t learn things by heart, right?). This is why it’s likely that some questions are similar (if not exactly the same). I did it for several theoretical subjects and it worked. Give it a try…

5) Don’t worry, be happy!

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Young Doctor - 5 Tips for New Medical Students

Don’t worry, be happy! – 5 Tips for New Medical Students.

[/custom_frame_center] One thing you should always make sure of is finding some leisure time. Even if you had a tough week—and a long oncoming weekend to study for other tests—relax on your own or hang out with your friends (not too often, though). After lectures, if you don’t have any difficult test in the short term, try to act normal (yes, you are normal in spite of your medical studies!). Some of my coolest memories (and not so cool pictures at times) were from parties. Have fun, I mean… it’s just a degree and you’ll surely nail it (: Did you like this new article? Yes? No? Either way, please feel free to leave your comments below and stay tuned because my next blog is about to come. By the way, don’t forget to check the Qupi.com
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