NursingCE's Top Stethoscope Picks and Guide to Find Yours

Monica Lin - 08/11/19

Stethoscopes are vital for a nurse to do their work properly. Without a reliable stethoscope, making thorough and accurate assessments on your patients would be impossible. Your stethoscope, then, needs to be just as good as you are, which is why we’ve put together this guide to help you find the best possible stethoscope for you and your needs as a nurse. 

The Importance of a Good Stethoscope

A good stethoscope has many advantages over one that is below average because stethoscopes help you diagnose patients, and they must not muffle any information that comes from the patient’s body to your ears, or else you risk making an inaccurate diagnosis. Two reasons that you should invest in a stethoscope, then, are for their better quality and convenience. Lastly, you should invest in a good stethoscope because of comfort; something that is not of utmost quality risks hurting you when you are using it, such as causing discomfort for your ears and so on. 

Types of Stethoscopes

There are a lot of different stethoscopes, so we thought we’d break them down for you real quick so you can best figure out your needs while moving forward to figure out what kind of stethoscope you should purchase. 

  1. Head Shape: To begin, stethoscopes come in three different head shapes. There are single head, dual-head, and triple-head stethoscopes. Single head stethoscopes are recommended for taking vital signs and basic heart sound assessments. This one is advantageous because it is clear and receives a large range of frequency outputs. Dual-heads are more versatile; they are composed of two parts, which are the diaphragm and the bell. The triple-head stethoscope assesses and takes in sound information for critical heart sounds. This one is expensive and heavy, so it is usually used for only critical heart tests. 
  2. Purpose: Different stethoscopes exist for different reasons. For example, cardiology stethoscopes exist for cardiac assessments. Pediatric stethoscopes have smaller heads, and so they are better at assessing the vital signs of children. 
  3. Special Types: Electronic stethoscopes are now gaining traction because they reduce noise and amplify the sounds you are looking for. Hearing-impaired stethoscopes also exist for those individuals who are hearing-impaired. 

Our Recommendations

Now that we’ve gone over some of the basics of stethoscopes, such as why it’s important to have one and the different types that exist, you can look through a list of what we think is the best stethoscope for different purposes around the hospital, with a list of pros and cons as well.

3M Littmann Classic III Stethoscope
  1. : We recommend this stethoscope as the best overall. It’s perfect for non-emergency environments, such as medical offices, general wards, and urgent cares. It has high acoustic sensitivity and a versatile two-sided chest piece with tunable diaphragms, making it great for both nursing students and nurses alike who need quality and sound that is durable and affordable. It’s got fantastic sound quality, it’s comfortable, and it resists skin oil and alcohol. 
  2. MDF Classic Cardiology Black Glitter in Rose Gold: This stethoscope is fantastic as it is just as great as more expensive models, but it comes at a much better price. This stethoscope has everything that you need in order to get a great acoustic diagnosis of the lungs. It’s also lightweight, and its rim is non-chilling. The earpieces are made of soft silicone and come in three sizes to ensure comfort. Additionally, the tubing is longer than that of most stethoscopes, giving the patient and nurse some space. It also provides excellent auscultation and effectively seals out ambient noise. 
    Cardiology-Stethoscope-Premium-Auscultation-High-Quality_Desktop_13 (2)
  3. Littmann Cardiology IV Diagnostic: We recommend this stethoscope as best for the ICU and ER. This device picks up on shifts that appear incredibly small in tone or rhythm, and it is engineered to pick up quieter sounds that come from the heart. Additionally, the tubing is dual-lumen, eliminating all distracting rubbing noises. It also has snap-tight ear tips that create a perfect seal to block out noises from the most chaotic emergency wards.
  4. ADC Adscope Animals 618: We recommend this stethoscope as the best one for pediatric nurses to use. This stethoscope is adorable because it makes things more fun and appealing to children as it has cute animal friends on it! It also puts the acoustic response of a traditional bell and diaphragm stethoscope together into a one-sided chest piece. This kind of structure will give you the ability to switch between frequencies by changing up pressure, giving space on the other side for animal decor. 
    animal stethoscope
  5. MDF Sprague Rappaport Dual Head: This one is great for nursing students who need a stethoscope that is both versatile and well-priced. It comes with an accessory kit that includes adult, pediatric, and infant diaphragm assemblies so you can diagnosis any population. Additionally, it has dual lumen tubing, giving it the ability to channel one sound for each year. Its headset also adjusts to your specifications so you can hear every beat. Nurses loved this one for its wonderful fit.
  6. Adscope L.E. Convertible Climician Stainless Steel Stethoscope: We recommend this stethoscope as the best to use for cardiology. Nurses in cardiology loved this stethoscope for its sensitivity, nothing that they could differentiate between subtle differences like heart murmur grading and pulmonary sounds.  rainbow stethoscope nurse
  7. Erka Finesse 2 Stethoscope: This stethoscope is reasonably priced and is excellent in its quality! It has a switchable chest piece, making it versatile to help infants, children, and adult patients with diagnoses. Its unique design also gives great resonance and sound transmission. It comes with a carrying case, ergonomic ear tips, is washable, and is dermatologically safe.

Wow, that’s a lot of great stethoscopes! Whether you want one that’s affordable, versatile, or specialized, we hope that this guide helps you find what you are looking for. You guys are the best, so we want only the best for you, and that includes stethoscopes.