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.