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Do Nurses Use Stethoscopes? Ultimate Guide to Buying Best One

Nurses are vital in health service delivery. But, do nurses use stethoscopes? Yes, they do. For a long time, many people didn’t know that nurses also use the device. This ignorance became evident in 2015 in ABC’s show The View. Joy Behar innocently asked the era’s Miss Colorado (Kelly Johnson) why she appeared in the Miss America pageant competition with a “doctor’s” stethoscope around her neck.

Since the pageant was a registered nurse, the statement caused an online uproar. The event changed the narrative around nurses’ use of this device. So, this article answers if you will use a stethoscope as a nurse, what you will use the device for, and offers a buying guide for nurses who are shopping for one. Let’s get to it.

A brief history of nurses’ stethoscopes use?

Physicians initially assessed patients by laying on their bare chests and listening. Stethoscopes changed the method, but the use was limited to physicians. The use changed in the 1930s when nurses were allowed to use the device.

As time went by, more changes occurred. Firstly, Sprague and Rappaport made the modern stethoscope in the 1940s. This stethoscope could evaluate children and adults alike since the head size was switchable. The roles of nurses also increased, and so was their use of the stethoscope. Nowadays, nurses carry out complex examinations and are more skilled as diagnosticians.

What do nurses use stethoscopes for?

The following are some of the ways that you will use stethoscopes:

Listening to heart sounds

This is the most common use of this device. A stethoscope can help you detect abnormal heart sounds such as heart murmurs. It also assists you as a nurse in checking your heartbeat.

Listening to bowel sounds

Listening to bowel sound is another way you can use a stethoscope when you want to know if a patient surfer from ileus, you will use the device to detect the absence of bowel sound.

Listening to lung sounds

A stethoscope is a go-to tool when you want to know if the air is flowing from a patient’s trachea to the bronchial.

Manual blood pressure check

You can use a stethoscope if you need to check a patient’s blood pressure but don’t have a sphygmomanometer.

What is the difference between doctors’ and nurses’ stethoscopes?

Since the roles of doctors differ from those of nurses, the stethoscopes the doctors are more complex. As a nurse, you should know the difference. These differences include:

Noise reduction

For more accurate findings, a doctor’s stethoscope comes with a noise reduction feature. The tube walls are thicker to stop interference from outside noise.

Sound recording

In cases where doctors need to analyze sounds and carry out further research, they use stethoscopes with sound recording capabilities. These stethoscopes use a direct audio recording feature that the basic nurse’s stethoscopes don’t have.

Sound amplification

Some special doctors, such as cardiologists, need a more advanced stethoscope. The stethoscope such doctors use comes with added features such as sound amplification. Your stethoscope as a nurse won’t need this feature.


In general, you will find doctor’s stethoscopes expensive compared to those you need as a nurse. Yours should be a basic one.

So, what should you look for when buying your stethoscope?

Factors nurses should consider when buying a stethoscope

The following are factors you should consider when buying a stethoscope:

Ease of use and cleaning

The stethoscope you settle for should be easy to operate and simple. Other than that, the device should be easy to clean after use since you will be using it on different patients.


In the medical field, you will need different kinds of patients. The stethoscope’s design should fit every patient be it an adult, a child, or a different body size. Failure to consider this will force you to find other suitable stethoscopes in each use.


It would be best if you considered the weight and comfort in your ears when getting a stethoscope. You should choose a light one. Other than the weight, the earpiece should be made of rubber for the sake of your ears’ comfort.


Since stethoscopes are made from rubber and aluminum, the one you settle for should be of top quality. The reason is, the material quality affects the device’s basic functionality.

Acoustic quality

The point of getting a stethoscope is to get your medical tests right. Despite the basic features of a nurse’s stethoscope, it should efficiently listen to patients’ vital organs. So, when buying one, carry out the necessary test to ensure that the one you have chosen is of good acoustic quality.


As a nurse, you don’t need a complicated and expensive stethoscope. Before you buy one, check on the price and compare it with the same quality but different brands to determine the best market price.

Diaphragm flexibility

The diaphragm is a significant component of the stethoscope since it vibrates to respond to sound from the surface. When buying a stethoscope, go for one with a diaphragm made of a flexible and top-quality plastic disk.

Tubing length

Despite the standard 22-27 inches length of stethoscopes, you should choose a comfortable one. Your arm length and height should factor in when deciding on this. Remember that the tube’s length doesn’t affect the outcome of your tests.

Nursing specialty

Nurses have different specialties too. When buying your stethoscope, consider where you will use it. If you are working in a noisy environment like an emergency room, it will help if you choose a louder one.

Tips for buying a stethoscope

  • Buy from trusted brands for better quality.
  • Check the quality. You will check by putting the stethoscope’s ear tips in your ears, then put your finger over the chest piece’s bell hole to seal it. After that, add light to the chest piece’s diaphragm. If it’s of good quality, you should feel pressure in the ears.
  • Go for a stethoscope that matches your brand.
  • Purchase a carrying case for the safety and cleanliness of the device.


When buying a stethoscope, you should consider all the factors that will affect its function. Those factors are the ones listed in this guide. If you have difficulty choosing a suitable one, refer to the section differentiating the nurses’ and doctors’ stethoscopes. The tips here will guide you through this whole process. Get your stethoscope now and enjoy the services of this valuable medical tool.

About Rachel

Hi my name is Rachel; a registered nurse. I graduated from one of the best nursing programmes and have been working in the medical field for 10 years. As a licensed practical nurse, I understand the plight that comes with the job. While I enjoy taking care of patients, I understand the long working hours that nurses have to deal with. We spend majority of the shifts walking around the medical centre making sure all patients are taken care of and this requires a lot of work and energy on the feet. https://bestnursingshoes.net has been created to help nurses from different parts of the world find the perfect shoes to reduce the strain on your feet and posture and make the job much easier.

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