Best Stethoscope for Nursing Students: The Ultimate Guide

The Best Stethoscope for Nursing StudentsLet’s get right to the point…

What’s the best stethoscope for nursing students?

You’re agonizing over which one to get. The choices are almost limitless.

Some of your nursing friends say to get this “one” and not that “one.”

But all of your friend’s recommendations don’t match. Go figure!

You don’t have a ton of money to spend either. After all, you’re about to start nursing school. Gotta pay for the tuition and those expensive books!

Everyone says don’t get the el cheapo just to save money.

But don’t go into payment plan just to get the best cardiology one either.

Here’s the deal…

One of the most important pieces of equipment a nursing student can invest in is their stethoscope.

It will be your go to tool when assessing patients.

In addition to listening to the heart and lung sounds, it’s also used with a sphygmomanometer to measure blood pressure.

It can also be used to listen for other internal body sounds such as intestinal noises.

You’ll need a decent one to get through nursing school. The right one will also help make your job as a nurse easier.

We’re going to review what you should look for in a good stethoscope for nursing school.

Now, if you don’t know much which stethoscope to get or what to look for, continue reading.

Now, if you just want to know what the top stethoscope for nursing students, look no further…

Top Stethoscopes for Nursing Students

  1. Littmann Lightweight
  2. Littmann Classic II S.E.
  3. Littmann Pediatric
  4. Littmann Master Classic II
  5. Littmann Cardiology III

Benefits – What will It Do For You?

The benefits of a good stethoscope are numerous.

  1. Acoustics. It makes a basic physical exam easier.

Blood pressure, heart and lung sounds and digestive noises are all easier to assess with clear acoustics.

And you’ll get accurate assessment leading to proper diagnoses.

  1. Comfort. Don’t put yourself through agonizing discomfort or worse pain when using one.

Make sure you get one that’s easy on your ears. A good ear tip will help ensure you don’t have pain when using it.

  1. Ease of use. You have to be able to use it correctly.

Don’t get one that needs fine tuning of diaphragms or frequent adjustments.

  1. Quality. The Littmann stethoscope is known for quality.

Other manufacturers to consider are MDF Stethoscopes, Ultrascopes, and Welch Allyn.  All are very good for nursing school and when working as a nurse.

Cost – Get One That You Can Afford

Littmann Classic IIIFor most, cost is the biggest factor when it comes to selecting the best stethoscope for nursing students.

Many of the best stethoscopes can cost hundreds of dollars.

There are several good options that will not break the bank but that will still provide the necessary features a student nurse needs.

Thankfully, the Littmann Lightweight is an effective, low cost stethoscope that will help you get through school. Check it our here.

Other minimal cost options include:

After nursing school is complete, it is a good idea to upgrade to a better and more expensive, model like the Littmann Classic II or even the Littmann Master Classic.

For some nurses, especially those who specialize in cardiology or pulmonology, an even more specialized upgrade may be needed. These include the Littmann Cardiology III or Littmann Master Cardiology.

If you go into pediatrics, there are pediatric stethoscopes.

With pediatrics, you’ll need one just for this purpose. Don’t try to “get by” with an adult one.

The bottom line is that the expensive stethoscope can wait and will even make a great graduation gift if you have family members who are so inclined.

School Requirements

Each school sets out a variety of requirements that the stethoscopes should meet or exceed.

Thankfully a good quality but basic stethoscope, like those mentioned above, should meet all of those requirements. When in doubt, always ask your adviser for clarification.

Anatomy of a Stethoscope – Must Know the Parts

A good starter stethoscope has three parts:

Each of these serves an important purpose.

The Headpiece

The headpiece, for example, has the ear tips. Comfortable ear tips can make a huge difference during an eight-hour shift.

The Tube

The tubing length is also important.

It should be long enough to allow you to stand at a comfortable distance from the patient but short enough to be snug at arms length.

This keeps the tubes from rubbing together and creating interference.

In certain stethoscopes, such as Littmann models, feature heavy double layer tubing in place of the standard two tubes.

This tends to minimize the interference and make quality better.

If you get a stethoscope and the tubing is too long, it is easy to get it cut to meet your needs.

By far, however, the most important feature on the stethoscope is the chestpiece.

The Chestpiece

Two Sided Chestpieces

Littmann Classic ii StethoscopeThe chestpiece of a standard stethoscope contains two sides.

The first is the diaphragm.

This is the larger, flatter side of the stethoscope.

It is used to hear higher pitched sounds such as normal heart and breath sounds.

The other side of a standard, or dual head, stethoscope, is called the bell.

The bell is a smaller, concave head that allows you to hear lower pitched sounds such as digestive noises and heart murmurs.

In some of the more expensive models, the bell, with firm pressure can double as a pediatric-sized diaphragm.

Single and Triple Head Chestpieces

Other, more specialized, types include the single and triple head stethoscope.

The single head can be tuned to low or high noises. Examples of this type include the Littmann Cardiology STC.

The triple head is an extremely specialized piece of equipment.

It is used mostly by cardiologist and pulmonologists.

It makes it easy to hear certain sounds without relying on cooperation from the patient.

The bottom line is that a nursing student would never need a single or triple head stethoscope.

Click here to get insanely detailed information on the parts of a stethoscope.

Location – What is Your Speciality

Classic II Infant StethoscopeDuring nursing school, you will rotate through many different locations in the hospital.

Because of this, a good quality set of ears is imperative.

For example, a noisy environment, such as an ER, tight fitting ear pieces are important.

Some kits come with multiple sizes. Others simply adjust to the various ears that use them.

Another example of a floor that has particular needs is pediatrics.

Very young children have very small bodies, of course!

Because of this, a smaller diaphragm is sometimes needed.

Some come with a smaller diaphragm that can be screwed on.

Others allow the bell to be used as a pediatric diaphragm when firm pressure is applied.

In the intensive care, cardiac care, pediatric intensive care or neonatal intensive care unit, a good one is especially important.

Heart and lung sounds are often softer.

Also, it can be very loud with monitors going off.

Also, in pediatric and especially neonatal, intensive care, the smaller diaphragm can make the difference between hearing a problem and it going unnoticed.

In surgery and recovery, the biggest factors are tube length.

Sitting slightly further from the patient allows you react faster if a newly waking patient is combative.

Using a model with dual layer tubing allows you to buy a model with longer tubing.

Now, it can seem hard to get one that meets all of these needs.

The bottom line, however, is that quality can adjust to meet the needs of changing floors.

Amplified Stethoscopes

In some instances, a special sort of stethoscope is necessary.  Especially for those that are hard of hearing.

For example, nurses with a hearing loss can utilize one designed specifically for that.

It can be amplified through the hearing aid or cochlear implant.

Others who need amplification can amplify through a smart phone or PDA.

There are even electronic stethoscopes that amplify the sound.

Tips for the Care and Maintenance of your Stethoscope

After investing a bit of money into a quality stethoscope, there are several tips that will help you maintain it.

The first, and most important, tip is to get a name tag.

Stethoscope Name TagName tags come in several styles.

The first and most common, is a name tag that slides on the neck of the stethoscope.

It is cheap but removable.

These are available wherever stethoscopes are sold.

An equally removable, but more stylish option, is beaded name tags.

With this type of name tag, a beaded band is wrapped around the neck of the stethoscope.

Materials to make this can be purchased at craft stores. Completed bands can be purchased online.

For a more expensive one, permanent options are also available.

The most common permanent name tag is engraving.

Your name is engraved onto the chest piece.

Other permanent name tags hook onto the tubing and render the it unusable if it is clipped.

There are just a few more tips to ensure yours is well cared for. These include:

  1. Never submerge or sterilize it. This will damage the acoustics.
  2. Keep it clean. Wipe frequently with alcohol-based cleaner or wipes to eliminate germs.
  3. Check the earpieces frequently for lint, dust and debris
  4. Avoid exposing it to extreme hot, cold or solvents of any kind.
  5. If you wear it around your neck, wear it under a collar to keep the tubing flexible.
  6. Many people also recommend not loaning yours out.
  7. People tend to accidentally walk off with them.  A name tag, complete with contact information will help you get it back should you set it down, loan it out or set it down during a code.

What to Look For in the Best Stethoscope for Nursing Students

All of this can seem confusing.

Each one boasts different features.

Fortunately, there are plenty of quality options that won’t break the bank.

There are a few must have features you should always look for.

These include:

To get all of these features, the cost should be around 60 to 90 dollars.

If it’s less than 20 dollars, you should be concerned about its craftsmanship.

Here’s the kicker…

You can often get a much better deal online with sites like Amazon.

Some quality models are sold for as much as 40 percent off retail.


So, what’s the bottom line?

After considering all of the above, selecting one is still not easy.

However, a quality stethoscope will work well, fit well and last for the duration of schooling.

After you upgrade, it will provide a great back-up.

In the end, a good one is an investment in your future.

Following these tips will help you make it a solid choice.

Selecting a quality model and getting your stethoscope engraved or simply getting a name tag will help you as you begin your career.

Our recommendation for the best Littmann stethoscope for nursing students for cost, quality, comfort, and durability is the Classic II SE. Check it out here.

Top Stethoscopes for Nursing Students

  1. Littmann Lightweight
  2. Littmann Classic II S.E.
  3. Littmann Pediatric
  4. Littmann Master Classic II
  5. Littmann Cardiology III

Don’t take our word for it, check out the comparison tool bellow.

Simply click and hold down the stethoscope name and drag it to the open spot.

It’ll show you the details of the stethoscope so that you can compare them to others.

And it has two tabs, one for the detailed review that you can click and the other the price.

It’s a pretty neat tool, have fun with it!

Best Stethoscope for Nursing Students

Name/Image: Brand:Origin:Weight:Length:Warranty:Rating:




  • Littmann Lightweight II SE StethoscopeLittmann Lightweight II SE Stethoscope
  • Littmann Classic II S.E. StethoscopeLittmann Classic II S.E. Stethoscope
  • Littmann Classic II Pediatric StethoscpoeLittmann Classic II Pediatric Stethoscpoe
  • Littmann Master Classic II Littmann Master Classic II
Littmann Lightweight ii SE Stethoscope Review

Littmann Lightweight II SE Stethoscope

LittmannU.S.A.1.9 ounces28 inches2 years4.5 Star Average Rating view pricefull review
Littmann Classic ii Stethoscope Review

Littmann Classic II S.E. Stethoscope

LittmannU.S.A.11.2 ounces28 inches3 years4.5 Star Average Rating view pricefull review
Littmann Pediatric Stethoscope Review

Littmann Classic II Pediatric Stethoscpoe

LittmannU.S.A.3.8 ounces28 inches3 years4.5 Star Average Rating view pricefull review
Littmann Master Classic II Stethoscope Review

Littmann Master Classic II

LittmannU.S.A.5.7 ounces27 inches3 years4.5 Star Average Rating view pricefull review

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