Best Stethoscopes For Nursing Students


No other medical equipment is as important for nursing students as a stethoscope. You will use a stethoscope together with a sphygmomanometer to measure blood pressure and listen to lung and heart sounds.

Since a nurse is the doctor’s eyes and ears, the quality of the tools you use will determine how useful you can be in your medical practice.

Investing in the correct stethoscope will get you ahead of everyone from the start. This single decision, as a student, will determine your rank as a nurse. While there is no star rating or anything, there is always that nurse that is the envy of other nurses. The one that every patient likes. The one that gets things done.

In this nurse stethoscope review, we provide details on the top-rated scopes in the market. These stethoscopes will make you stand out as that nurse not only while studying but also as a practicing nurse.

Most physicians are usually worried when the word ‘best’ or ‘quality’ are next to the name stethoscope. This is because they automatically think that means the device is expensive. While I always advise nurse students to consider purchasing a scope as a lifetime investment, it is important to also choose a scope that is within your budget.

We will be discussing important things to consider while choosing a stethoscope, review top rated stethoscopes most, and also help you get the best bargain.

Best Stethoscopes for Nursing Students

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Like you can see from the table above, the best stethoscope for nursing students are:

Why Buy Only the Best Stethoscope

There are various advantages of purchasing a good stethoscope. These include:


Quality stethoscopes have excellent acoustic capabilities. Littmann stethoscopes are popular for quality. Other quality stethoscope brands include Welch Allyn, Ultrascopes and MDF stethoscopes.


Since stethoscopes might stay in the ears or on the neck for a long time, buying low-quality ones can make you uncomfortable. Apart from this, the steths may be a health hazard.


You will use your stethoscope for several activities. Therefore, choose one that will always provide accurate results. A steth that will require frequent diaphragm adjustments or fine-tuning might frustrate you.

Clear Acoustics

A stethoscope that gives clear acoustics makes physical examination easier. You will also get accurate assessments to make correct diagnoses. It is easy to assess digestive sounds, lung and heart sounds when your steth has clear acoustics.

Get Value for Money When Buying Stethoscopes

get an affordable stethoscopeMost nursing students shy off from buying quality stethoscopes for lack of money. At the same time, most good quality steths are quite expensive.

However, there are alternatives to good stethoscopes that have similar features and benefits similar to the costlier ones but are affordable.

The Littman Lightweight stethoscope is one such steth that student nurses praise for being efficient. Others are Littman Select and the Littmann Classic II S.E. stethoscope. You can check the Littmann Lightweight stethoscope here.

Sometimes, you will need to upgrade your steth to a better one after nursing school. When upgrading, you can go for higher quality models like Littmann Master Classic or the Littmann Classic II S.E. models.

You will have to upgrade to even more specialized models like the Littmann Master Cardiology or the Littmann Cardiology III if you decide to specialize in pulmonology or cardiology. There are also specialized pediatric steths if you decide to specialize in pediatric care.

All in all, don’t stress about getting an expensive stethoscope if you can’t afford it as a nursing student. You will acquire one when the right time comes.

Stethoscope Requirements for Nursing School 

Nursing schools have various guidelines on the quality of stethoscopes they require students to have. All the stethoscopes mentioned above will, in most cases, meet the requirements. But you confirm from your supervisor the exact stethoscope requirements in your school

Parts of a Stethoscope

As a nurse student, you should know the parts of a stethoscope. There are three parts in a basic stethoscope, each of which has a unique purpose.

The headpiece

This is the part that has the ear tips. If you will be at work for long hours, the quality of the steth’s ear tips will determine how you enjoy your shift.

The Chest piece

Double-sided Chest Piece

Basic stethoscopes are double-sided. The steths have a large flatter side that is mostly used to hear high pitched frequency sounds like breathing sounds or normal heartbeats. This side is called the diaphragm.

The other side is usually a small concave head used in listening to low-pitched sounds like heart murmurs or digestive noises. This side is known as the bell.

Some stethoscope models allow you to use the bell side as a pediatric steth by simply applying more pressure on it.

Triple head and single head chest piece

Some unique stethoscopes have either a single or a triple head. The Littmann Cardiology STC, for example, has a single head that can be turned when alternating from a high to a low frequency.

Some special pulmonology and cardiology steths have a triple head. These make it easy for medics in these departments to get results even when the patient can’t cooperate.

As a nursing student, you will not need a stethoscope with a single or triple head.

RELATED: Parts of a Stethoscope

Which Stethoscope Should You Buy?

best stethoscope for nurse studentsWhile in nursing school, you will frequently be assigned to different locations. Rotation from ER section to a pediatric ward is a normal occurrence. It is therefore important to choose a stethoscope that will serve you well in any location and in any department.

Some stethoscopes come in multiple size while others have to be adjusted by the tube. If you are likely to be often rotated to neonatal or pediatric departments, look for an adjustable stethoscope.

Children have smaller bodies that produce faint sounds. Children stethoscopes are therefore designed with smaller diaphragms. There are also normal diaphragm size steths that have a bell for pediatric use or a diaphragm that can be screwed on.

Good quality steths are important for neonate intensive care, pediatric intensive care, general intensive care or cardiac care.

Patients in these departments produce faint body sounds, like lung sounds and heartbeats. Also, most of the time, the patients are in rooms with loud monitors that occasionally go off.

The most important feature to check for steths to be used in recovery or surgery departments is length. This is because patients in these departments may be startled if they come to consciousness and find you way too close to them. A steth with a dual-layer tube can be extended when necessary.

It can be difficult to find stethoscopes that meet all these requirements. The trick is to go for one that can closely meet most requirements.

Amplified Stethoscopes

In today’s world, a physical challenge (handicap) is not a good enough excuse for one not to follow their dream of being a medic. People who are hard of hearing, for example, can opt for special steths that allows for sounds to be amplified through their cochlear implant or hearing aid.

Another option is to amplify the sounds through a PDA or smartphone. If your budget allows it, you can also go for an electronic stethoscope.

How to Care for and Maintain Your Stethoscope

When you purchase a steth, it will be an investment. It is therefore important to take care of it to ensure it lasts long. Here are some tips on caring for your steth.

Name Tags

stethoscope name tagThe most common types of name tags are the ones that slide on the neck of the stethoscope. These name tags are removable. The affordable are available at local steth dealers.

Beaded name tags are a more stylish option. The tags have a beaded band wrapped around the neck of the scope. You can purchase these tags online or buy materials from craft stores and make a personalized name tag. These tags are also removable.

If you want more permanent tags, you can engrave your chest piece. Although more expensive than the other types of tags, this is a more lasting option. There are also permanent name tag options but these may render your tubing unusable as they hook onto it.

Here are some tips on caring for your stethoscope:

  • Use wipes or alcohol-based cleaners to keep your stethoscope germ free
  • Do not regularly loan your steth
  • DO NOT sterilize or submerge your scope as this may interfere with its acoustics
  • Regularly check your earpiece and clean dust, debris or lint
  • Wear your scope under a collar when it is on your neck to keep the tubing flexible
  • Avoid exposing your steth to cold, extremely hot conditions or to solvents
  • Have a name tag with your contact information on your steth so that should you loan or misplace it, you can easily get it back

Best Stethoscope for Nursing Students: What to Look For

With different stethoscope brands purporting to have the best features, choosing the best one for you can be difficult. To make your work easier, choose a steth that has most features or at least all the basic features.

The cost of the steth will roughly give you an idea of its quality. If a steth is less than $20, its quality is likely to be poor. Good basic steths cost about $60 to $90.

Tip: Buying from online stores like on Amazon will give you a great deal for your cash. You could even end up with a 40% off retail deal for some quality models.

Here are basic features to look for in a stethoscope.

  • Durable diaphragm
  • Angles, soft-sealing ear tips
  • Thick, latex-free tubing with large internal bore
  • Crisp-clear sound acoustics
  • Bell made from high quality, flexible materials

Check the video below for more information on student nurse stethoscopes:

Even with these features, you may still find it challenging to pick the right stethoscope. By following this guide, you will make the best decision.

If your budget allows it, invest in a quality stethoscope even though it may be costly. A stethoscope is an investment and if you take good care of the one you purchase in college, you can continue using it into your career.

Because of its comfort, durability and quality, we recommend the Littmann Classic II S.E. for nursing students.

Top 5 Recommended Stethoscopes for Nursing Students

Follow the guide above to get the best stethoscope for nursing students.

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