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10+ Year Member
Feb 1, 2010
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So this is the first year my school is making the M1's buy their own otoscope/ophthalmoscope sets. Our school recommends the Welch Allyn combo but thats around 600 dollars. Anyone know of any cheaper alternatives that will do the job. They didn't make the M1's from previous years buy it but because our class size grew they don't have enough for everyone. Any input/advice would be appreciated. Thanks :)

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Borrow one from someone else.
This topic has been discussed ad nauseum so if you want a better discussion search for it, but long story short, yes there are plenty of cheaper alternatives.

My How to Be A Doctor 101 teacher told us it didn't really matter if we bought a Welch-Allyn set for hundreds of dollars, or one of the cheaper brands for practicing. 99% of the time, the devices will be there on the wall for you to use-- and those models are probably what you should get good at using. You'll notice a difference in your ability to visualize features of the eye, or the ability to adjust the brightness of the light (even between various Welch Allyn models), but it's not that big of a deal. So for $150, you can get a set off Amazon, then upgrade later if you decide you need to when you actually have monies.

That said, I bought a Welch-Allyn set off of eBay recently. Saved $400 over what it lists for new, and it works great. The warranty is transferable, and if I want to sell it later, I'll be able to and get what I paid for it or more back... if I don't, it's high enough quality that I'll be able to use it forever and have it around the house or whatever.
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don't buy it and just see how everything plays out once the skills course gets started. I bet you'll be fine without one.
whatever you do, don't get the panoptic scope. you won't be able to use it on any exam because they will provide everything for you. and none of the hospitals will have one so you will have to practice using the regular scope anyway.
The brand you mention offers a fine ophthalmoscope and otoscope combo. In the grand scheme of your education and what you spend your loan money on...they're not a waste. I advise you to buy them and not worry about it.
+1 for buying a used welch allyn set off ebay.
My school provides WA otoscopes/ophthalmoscopes for all of the students (it comes out of our tuition :(). I've only used mine once and it was on my dad who had ear pain and wanted me to take a look. Other than that, we always practiced for our OSCE's using the wall mounted scopes, since those are what we have to use on actual exam day. I wouldn't buy anything and just practice using the mounted scopes in your clinic or OSCE center if you have access.

For the most part, nobody knows whether you actually know how to use an ophth/otoscope anyway and on OSCE's, the preceptor just checks it off the list that you put the thing in the patient's ear. You can totally fake your way through it if you wanted to.
Number of times I have actually used my oto/ophthalmoscope since first year preceptor?


Seriously, they're always in the hospital. So if for some reason there's something where you're required to have one of your own, either borrow from someone else or get a cheap one that will just get you by. If you're actually going into ophtho or ENT I guess maybe you could justify it, but otherwise I'd spend that money on almost anything else.
if you really have an extra 600-1000$ lying around just send me a check instead.

really, i'll put it to good use.
Commission sales is something else. Sales make the world go round so you can't be mad at the salesman. Just look at apple... great sales!! Everyone is happy- the customer feels like they get a 'good deal' and a great product with all the bells and whistles, and they company makes a fortune on a HUGE markup. That's why some summer salesmen can make over 100k in four months!
So, A welch allyn rep came and spoke to our class. Our professor said she endorses the product but doesn't get a kick back (don't know if I believe that!). I was asked to collect the order forms because I'm a leader, well, come to find out- for taking the orders I get like $100-$200 off any order I make through them!! That's crazy! If I'm getting a kickback, you can't tell me that my school and those 'endorsing' it are not getting a kickback. They are making a killing if they can afford to cut $200 of my purchase for 30 min of my time. I'm buying from eBay. Sales people just give me a wierd vibe. (even $200 off from $600 is more expensive then buying them second hand).
You know I bet more accurate diagnosing would not increase if all doctors had brand new diagnostic hand tools (I can see improvements due to really nice machines doing the diagnosing, or a opthalmoscope connected to the computer). Most diagnosis come from the history. I'm just saying that I don't believe for a minute that I will miss a diagnosis because my light aperture is 1mm different from the doc accross the hall. Just thinking about the grand scheme of things.
I use a Keeler ophthalmoscope because the optics are better. You get a clearer image with a slightly wider field of view. Also, the aperture is variable so you can have a better depth of field when you use the pinhole.

I'll agree though when it comes to new vs. used, as long as the lenses aren't scratched and they are clean and the light bulb is at maximum wattage there's no difference. However, I highly recommend Keeler over Welch-Allyn for the ophthalmoscope!