A stethoscope is an essential tool for anyone working with patients in the medical field. Invented in 1816, this handy little device changed internal medicine. For the first time, physicians were able to pinpoint ailments pertaining to specific systems in the human body, which revolutionized diagnostics and treatment in its time.

And now the stethoscope is everywhere, and comes in a huge variety of designs and special use types. If you’re not sure what kind you need, it can feel like picking out peanut butter at the grocery store. Chunky? Creamy? Extra chunky? I can’t choose!We’re here to make it a little easier for you. Our guide will teach you how to decide the best stethoscope to suit your needs, as well as where to find some of our favorites, most of which are available on Amazon.

How to Choose a Stethoscope

You can get really nit-picky when it comes to selecting your stethoscope. Initial factors you should judge any stethoscope you’re thinking of buying are:

  • Quality: Never buy a stethoscope that is made from less-than-premium materials. Investing in a well-made device will ensure its longevity, as well as its accuracy.
  • Comfort: Be sure to find a device that works well for you, and the needs of your body. It’s going to be with you for a long time, so you should make sure you enjoy wearing it.

Next, you should look at the types of stethoscopes available, and decide which one is best for you, based on your specialty and day-to-day tasks.

  • Head types: >A single head picks up clear, wide signals and is best for physicals and lung auscultations. >A dual-head will pick up a wider range of sounds; the bell-and-diaphragm enables the listener to hear both low-frequency and high-frequency sounds that may not be picked up by a single-head. >A triple head stethoscope is the most accurate, although they are expensive and rather heavy. These are designed mainly for listing to critical heart sounds.
  • Uses: >Sprague-Rappaport: This is the most common high-quality stethoscope. Two tubes leading from the head to the ear pieces allow for a clear and accurate stereoscopic sound from the body.>Cardiac: These are designed to have the highest-quality sound, for the most accurate assessment of cardiac noises.>Pediatric: These have essentially the same design as a standard stethoscope, except the head is smaller, and contoured to fit the shape of a child’s body.>Infant: Just like the pediatric stethoscope, only smaller.

Best Stethoscopes for Nurses and Physicians

  1. 3M Littmann Classic III – This is the best stethoscope for physicians and doctors. A simple but high-quality design, it features a tunable diaphragm, which means it’s good for listening to both high and low frequency sounds. A two-sided head allows the listener to use this device on both adult and pediatric patients. Available on Amazon for $82.94.
  2. 3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E. Stethoscope – This is the best stethoscope for medical assistants, the best stethoscope for medical students, the best stethoscope for nursing students, and the best stethoscope for taking blood pressure and lung sounds. The lightweight version of it’s older brother in position #1, it does everything the Classic III does, but it’s made for medical professionals who are running around and on the go. A teardrop-shaped head allows the user to easily fit it under a blood-pressure cuff. Available on Amazon for $47.95.
  3. 3M Littmann 2141 Master Classic II – This is the best stethoscope for nurses. Durable, hardy, ergonomic, time tested – and best-rated in 2016, and 2017. The award-winning design allows for the most accurate detection of high and low frequency sounds, again with a tunable head. Available on Amazon for $97.74.

Best Stethoscopes for Specialties

  1. 3M Littmann Master Cardiology Stethoscope – This is the best stethoscope for cardiac nurses, and the best stethoscope for heart sounds (Littmann is definitely one of the best stethoscope brands). This device picks up a variety of sounds, and is tunable with just a change of pressure from the user. Available on Amazon for $202.60.
  2. ADC Adscope Adimals 618 Pediatric Stethoscope with Tunable AFD Technology – This is the best stethoscope for pediatrics. How adorable! This cute device comes with interchangeable animal faces that keep your little patients busy during checkups. It additionally features a non-chill bell for maximum patient comfort, and tunable head which picks up both low and high-frequency sounds. Available on Amazon for $39.99.
  3. Eko CORE Digital Stethoscope – This is the best stethoscope for hard of hearing nurses, and ER nurses who might need a little sound amplification. This digital device can toggle between analog and digital listening, and reduces ambient noise while amplifying heart and lung sounds. Available on the Eko website for $299.
  4. 3M Littmann Classic II Infant Stethoscope – This is the best for infant care. The tiny head enables the listener to pinpoint infant heart and lung frequencies. The dual-sided chestpiece aids this high-performance device in relating high-quality sounds. Available on Amazon for $93.84.

No medical toolkit is complete without a stethoscope, and with our list you’ll be able to find the perfect one for you.

Medely is a platform that works with nurses to get them into per-diem and travel nursing positions that fit their busy lives. Sign up today for free here.

A stethoscope is the cherry on top of any nursing uniform. To see our other recommendations for comfortable, affordable, and attractive outfits, check out our other articles: Best Shoes for Nurses, Cute Scrubs and Where to Find Them, and Best Compression Socks for Nurses.