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Pre Med Student/EMT: What kind of stethoscope?

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mellsworth21

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Salutations:
I'm a Pre-Med student that's taking a local EMT class, since its required to purchase a stethoscope; I was hoping to to get one that will hold me through my first few years of med school. Any recomendations? :cool:
 

Depakote

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Salutations:
I'm a Pre-Med student that's taking a local EMT class, since its required to purchase a stethoscope; I was hoping to to get one that will hold me through my first few years of med school. Any recomendations? :cool:

Get a cheap $20 stethoscope, brand doesn't matter. You won't be listening for murmurs or subtle heart sounds while working as an EMT and the odds of it getting lost/damaged/stolen are way too good to be worth investing anything more. This will get you through the first 2 years of med school at least (maybe even all 4)
 

endocardium

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Sure, you can get by with a cheapo steth, but if you have a bit more money to spend, I'd probably go with the Littmann Classic II SE. It's relatively inexpensive, so you can throw it around, has both a bell and a diaphragm, and it is good enough so that you actually might have a chance of hearing breath, bowel, and korotkov sounds in a loud, moving ambulance. The difference was astounding, for me, sitting back there using a cheap stethoscope or my Littmann. Then again, it might just be me.

The gold standard for medical school is probably the Littmann Cardiology III, but it is going to be way overkill for EMT work (it's overkill for medical school as well). It's definitely a good stethoscope, but you might look a bit like a baffoon with it around your neck.
 

mellsworth21

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Yea I dont wanna go overkill or a cheapo. Littman should be a quality product but I wont look like a wanna-be with it?
 

endocardium

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Yea I dont wanna go overkill or a cheapo. Littman should be a quality product but I wont look like a wanna-be with it?

I think you should be fine with a Littmann Classic II SE, or equivalent. Nobody looked at me funny when I was in your position and had that steth.
 

mellsworth21

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This is off topic to the thread (hopefully not against forum rules) but...Did any of you Pre-Med/EMT students get a subtle anti-doctor feel while taking your class? I think my prof spent about 15 minutes one day pratically bashing docs.
 

scattun

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This is off topic to the thread (hopefully not against forum rules) but...Did any of you Pre-Med/EMT students get a subtle anti-doctor feel while taking your class? I think my prof spent about 15 minutes one day pratically bashing docs.

I don't think it is so much anti-doctor as it is anti-ignorance. A LOT of docs really have no idea how EMS and Transport services operate even after working with them several times. I would be frustrated too after the 13th time of explaining emtala violations to a general surgeon who makes at least four times more then me.
 

scrubsaresexy

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To be honest, I wouldn't even spend that much on a stethoscope. As an EMT-B, the most you'll probably be using the stethoscope for is to take blood pressures and to listen to chest sounds. I bought a $15 stethoscope, I think the brand is Prestige, and its really nice. My favorite thing about it is that it has interchangable ear pieces and diaphragms, and it comes in a lot of colors so people can't really subtley steal it from me. It probably won't at all be appropriate for med school, but it will probably get lost or stolen before than anyway.

:luck:
 

emttim

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Well, I'm going to go against the grain here and disagree that you should just get a cheap, POS $15 stetho. Yes, you will only be taking blood pressures and listening to lung sounds, however, whatever you document better be accurate because it's a legal document and you can still be sued even as just an EMT. And btw the background noise in the back of an ambulance doesn't make it easy to listen for lung sounds or BPs.

I use a Littmann II Lightweight SE. I think the stetho cost about $35 and it works great. The recommendation for Littmann II Classic SE isn't a bad one, that's a good stethoscope too since it's damn near the same as the Lightweight, but it weighs noticeably more. I used the Classic for maybe a day or two before getting the Lightweight because it weighs so little you don't even notice it around your neck, although I'd recommend keeping it in one of the cargo pockets on your EMT pants so it doesn't get in your way when you're not using it.
 

meliora27

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I got a sprague-rappaport style one at a hospital supply store that was next door to the hospital where I took an EMT class. The guy working claimed that it was what most people in my class were buying. It was $15-20 and works fine.
 

emttim

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Captain Fantastic

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I carried a Cardiology III as an EMT-B. It was more machine than I needed for sure, but no one ever gave me trouble for carrying it. I happen to like my stethoscope quite a bit and a little ribbing from the crew couldn't have convinced me to get something different.
 

Agent Splat

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I've always used a Littman select when I work on an ambulance, still do. But I upgraded to the Cardio III when I started med school.

I like the size of the Select for ambulance work..thin, small, but it works pretty well. I can wear it around my neck comfortably but usually keep it in one of my cargo pockets as it can easily "bunch" up. The downside is that unless it's changed since I got mine 7 years ago, the earpieces are fairly hard rubber material and aren't the most comfy compared to the more expensive littmans

Definitely wouldn't pay more than that for a stethscope if you're out and about. Stuff gets lost out on highways and in cornfields and in prisons.
 
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I prefer Welch Allyns to Littmans myself. I have slight hearing difficulties (nothing major at all) and can hear things much better in a top end WA vs. a top end Littman. But that's just me.

For an EMT gig, I'd recommend a $20 sprage-rappaport style. Cheap, and in many cases it sounds a lot better than the Littmans.
 

Agent Splat

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This is off topic to the thread (hopefully not against forum rules) but...Did any of you Pre-Med/EMT students get a subtle anti-doctor feel while taking your class? I think my prof spent about 15 minutes one day pratically bashing docs.

as an EMT AND a med student, i STILL hate doctors.
 

Monarch Kong

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Gold plated. Preferably with your name etched in cursive with as many initials after your name. Here are a few examples to help you along: MD, PhD, JD, MBA, FACS, PharmD, AW, BBQ
 

emttim

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I've always used a Littman select when I work on an ambulance, still do. But I upgraded to the Cardio III when I started med school.

I like the size of the Select for ambulance work..thin, small, but it works pretty well. I can wear it around my neck comfortably but usually keep it in one of my cargo pockets as it can easily "bunch" up. The downside is that unless it's changed since I got mine 7 years ago, the earpieces are fairly hard rubber material and aren't the most comfy compared to the more expensive littmans

Definitely wouldn't pay more than that for a stethscope if you're out and about. Stuff gets lost out on highways and in cornfields and in prisons.

The low end Littmans do come with the hard ear pieces, but they come with an extra pair of soft ear pieces that you can exchange. You can also get the "small" size soft ear pieces too to customize the fit better...that's what I did. First thing I did was throw away the hard ear pieces.
 

Lecter

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i dare you!

harveytriple.gif


but um, for an EMT...

IMG_1569.jpg
 

BrainBuff

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OP

Get the cheapest stethoscope. It will take you years to figure out what you are listening to. As a pre med, it is a big waste of time.
 

ChubbyChaser

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This is off topic to the thread (hopefully not against forum rules) but...Did any of you Pre-Med/EMT students get a subtle anti-doctor feel while taking your class? I think my prof spent about 15 minutes one day pratically bashing docs.
Definitely in mine. Alot of the EMTs seem to view paramedics as gods, and claim that the paramedics know more then the doctors, take better care, etc.
 

ChimpanzeeMinky

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OP

Get the cheapest stethoscope. It will take you years to figure out what you are listening to. As a pre med, it is a big waste of time.

Not good advice. Go with what some of the other EMTs on this thread have been saying. Having a decent stethoscope will make worlds of difference not only in the back of an ambulance, but in peoples' houses where the dogs are barking and kids are screaming, or on a highway working on an auto accident as the helicopter is landing behind you. While the subtlety of heart sounds is not important to you as an EMT, being able to tell whether or not someone is moving air into his right lung is pretty important. Or you could just be like so many EMT-Bs and say "lungs clear!" when you don't hear anything at all, and miss that pneumo. I doubt you want to be that guy.

Blood pressure can also be almost impossible to auscultate even with a good stethoscope under noisy conditions, and you'll be left taking one by palp. May as well not put yourself at a disadvantage with a crappy steth.

I have a Littmann classic II that I've been running with for 3 years now, and oh my goodness, I haven't lost it yet!
 

BrainBuff

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I have to laugh at that your post Chimp!

A quality stethoscope makes a world of difference....to a cardiologist or a physician that is listening to certain heart murmurs. That's it. A cheap stethoscope is enough to listen to lung sounds and to take blood pressures. If there is too much noise around, then just make sure that the earpiece is well placed in your ear.

It is actually very amusing to see someone carrying a Littman or any other specialty cardio stethoscope who is unable to listen to a grade II SEM along the sternal border...In fact, it frequently leads to major embarrassment.
 

ChimpanzeeMinky

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I have to laugh at that your post Chimp!

A quality stethoscope makes a world of difference....to a cardiologist or a physician that is listening to certain heart murmurs. That's it. A cheap stethoscope is enough to listen to lung sounds and to take blood pressures. If there is too much noise around, then just make sure that the earpiece is well placed in your ear.

It is actually very amusing to see someone carrying a Littman or any other specialty cardio stethoscope who is unable to listen to a grade II SEM along the sternal border...In fact, it frequently leads to major embarrassment.

Have you ever worked on an ambulance and had to take blood pressures and listen to lung sounds under varied conditions with a cheap stethoscope at times and a quality stethoscope at others?
 

Lecter

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Have you ever worked on an ambulance and had to take blood pressures and listen to lung sounds under varied conditions with a cheap stethoscope at times and a quality stethoscope at others?

Yes. And that's why there is a) an automated blood pressure machine attached to our EKG and b) blood pressure by palpation. :p
 

ChimpanzeeMinky

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Yes. And that's why there is a) an automated blood pressure machine attached to our EKG and b) blood pressure by palpation. :p

I wasn't asking you, but that's ok. The Lifepak is great for BPs when you need them on intervals, but they are notorious for giving inaccurate results, and we will *always* take a manual bp first. BP by palpation, which I already mentioned, is a good fallback plan when you can't get one by auscultation, but it's not ideal, since you don't get a diastolic reading. And how about those lung sounds by palp...

We're talking about relative stethoscope quality here; not alternatives to using one.
 

Lecter

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I wasn't asking you, but that's ok. The Lifepak is great for BPs when you need them on intervals, but they are notorious for giving inaccurate results, and we will *always* take a manual bp first. BP by palpation, which I already mentioned, is a good fallback plan when you can't get one by auscultation, but it's not ideal, since you don't get a diastolic reading. And how about those lung sounds by palp...

We're talking about relative stethoscope quality here; not alternatives to using one.

sorry

22189050.jpg
 

lunaire

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I'll give you a different perspective:

If you're SURE you'll get into med school, get a quality stethoscope. You'll need to get one for MS1 anyway.

Littman cardiologist is a good choice. I got the Dr's Research Group myself. The idea is to get a good stethoscope, and keep it for life. Try to get it from ebay from a 4th yr med student (those matching to derm/optho won't need theirs anymore). For an idea, the standard budget was $100-$150 for my class.
 

moe_4eva

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Have you ever worked on an ambulance and had to take blood pressures and listen to lung sounds under varied conditions with a cheap stethoscope at times and a quality stethoscope at others?

I've never had an issue taking a BP and listening to lung sounds with my $25 stethescope, irregardless of the conditions. In a prehospital environment, vital signs are meant to give a) a baseline and subsequently b) be able to tell significant changes in those baselines. You aren't going to be able to treat anyone better if you hear their pressure at 80 systolic vs. 90 systolic. You'll still start an IV and get them to a hospital.

To the OP: get whatever stethescope you feel most comfortable with. If you'll feel more confident with a more expensive stethescope, then get one. If you have damaged hearing, perhaps the more expensive one will be good as well. But if you've tried cheaper stethescopes and haven't had any trouble hearing through them, than go with one of those.
 

ChimpanzeeMinky

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I've never had an issue taking a BP and listening to lung sounds with my $25 stethescope, irregardless of the conditions. In a prehospital environment, vital signs are meant to give a) a baseline and subsequently b) be able to tell significant changes in those baselines. You aren't going to be able to treat anyone better if you hear their pressure at 80 systolic vs. 90 systolic. You'll still start an IV and get them to a hospital.

To the OP: get whatever stethescope you feel most comfortable with. If you'll feel more confident with a more expensive stethescope, then get one. If you have damaged hearing, perhaps the more expensive one will be good as well. But if you've tried cheaper stethescopes and haven't had any trouble hearing through them, than go with one of those.

I don't know where you run rescue, but a 10 point difference can make a significant difference in how we treat our patients under our protocols. With potentially long transport times, the vital signs collected are used to formulate an initial treatment plan in collaboration with medical control, and are not simply meant to establish a vague, inaccurate baseline. "Irregardless."
 
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I got the Littman Classic II SE as well, and it's served me well. It was $60, and no, nobody thought it was overkill. Most of my co-workers with their own scopes spent at least $40 or so. The really cheap ones are going to break and you'll need another one anyways.
 

emttim

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I have to laugh at that your post Chimp!

A quality stethoscope makes a world of difference....to a cardiologist or a physician that is listening to certain heart murmurs. That's it. A cheap stethoscope is enough to listen to lung sounds and to take blood pressures. If there is too much noise around, then just make sure that the earpiece is well placed in your ear.

It is actually very amusing to see someone carrying a Littman or any other specialty cardio stethoscope who is unable to listen to a grade II SEM along the sternal border...In fact, it frequently leads to major embarrassment.

The only conclusion I can come up with for the ignorance of what you say is that you have little to no work experience on an ambulance. If you do, then I would wager that you're one of those EMTs who, as was previously mentioned, just says "lungs clear!" regardless of what you heard since you may not have heard a damn thing with the crappy stetho you recommend.

The only embarrassment I see here is your disdain for patient care. If you can't accurately get a blood pressure or lung sounds because you couldn't hear them with your stetho, then regardless of how you want to interpret it, you're hurting that patient.

Yes. And that's why there is a) an automated blood pressure machine attached to our EKG and b) blood pressure by palpation. :p

It's funny that you mention that, since blood pressure machines can be horribly inaccurate in some situations (hence why they recommend taking the first set manually) and blood pressure by palp doesn't give the same information obviously since you can only get a systolic measurement with it and not a diastolic measurement as well. Doesn't really give that great of a trend now does it? You could have a systolic that stays the same but for all you know the diastolic is getting closer and closer to the systolic pressure which can signal a dangerous turn of events. But hey, it'd be news to you since you won't have a clue about it by palping the BP. :rolleyes:

I'll give you a different perspective:

If you're SURE you'll get into med school, get a quality stethoscope. You'll need to get one for MS1 anyway.

Littman cardiologist is a good choice. I got the Dr's Research Group myself. The idea is to get a good stethoscope, and keep it for life. Try to get it from ebay from a 4th yr med student (those matching to derm/optho won't need theirs anymore). For an idea, the standard budget was $100-$150 for my class.

Eh....this will save you money in the long run, but as others have said, stethos can get lost while working as an EMT so I wouldn't recommend buying anything more expensive than a Classic II or Lightweight. I dunno about you, but if I lost a $200 stethoscope or however much the cardiologists cost, I'd cry...either that or put a hole in the wall.
 

McPoyle

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Personally, I and most of my paramedic class got the cardiolgist 3 or whatever they were called. (the only reason we able to do this was 3M makes many of the parts and they are based here in the twin cities, one of our classmates worked there at the time so we got them for like $40 or somthing ridiculous like that.) Anyway, the point of my story was that I lost it in the first week of clinicals and have not bought a new stethoscope for the last five years.

Sure it was a sweet stethoscope, but I myself refuse to buy a piece of equipment which presumably would be provided by my company. Additionally, I have never had a problem using the cheapo stuff that they provide.

In the end it won't matter what you do, I would advocate the saving yourself the money until you really need to spend it. For what we use it for, and more importantly for what you as an EMT use it for, is pretty limited. Basically just listening for a few specific lung sounds, rarely heart sounds, and usually BP's. If you can't accomplish this with a cheap stethoscope then you should be focusing on practicing your exam skills instead. Thats not supposed to sound like a slight, just something that helped me was listening to anything I could in every possible environment before I became comfortable and proficient regardless of the quality of stethoscope.
 

scrubsaresexy

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Definitely wouldn't pay more than that for a stethscope if you're out and about. Stuff gets lost out on highways and in cornfields and in prisons.

That's exactly where I run calls (highways and cornfields) which is probably why I said get the cheaper one. And when I'm not riding in the sticks, I'm usually riding in a bad neighborhood, so I would be concerned that something nice would disappear.

This is kind of random, but I was always taught to not wear my stethoscope around my neck in an ambulance. I was walking around in my EMT class with it around my neck, looking pretentious as hell, when my instructor grabbed and it started to choke me with it (not hard enough to actually inhibit my breathing, of course), but she made a point and it's stayed with me. You never know what your patients are going to do/how they're going to react and it's stupid to put yourself at risk like that.

Stay safe!
 
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