The 3M Littmann Cardiology III Stethoscope is the best bang for the med student loan-money buck when it comes to superior medical equipment to buy. Some basic stethoscope knowledge: “bell” and “diaphragm” refer to the two side of older traditional stethoscopes that allow the listener to tune into lower and higher frequencies, respectively. The 3M Littmann Cardiology III however uses some magical patented technology to produce this affect simply by pushing lightly or firmly. The second smaller side can be used in a similar fashion as a pediatric stethoscope, or converted to a traditional bell (see insert in picture). Bottom line: this is the only stethoscope that is needed for any medical student throughout medical school and beyond.
The instrument itself usually comes with a 5 year manufacturer warranty, which is perfect because it lasts through intern year. The ear pieces are comfortable, and a new set will come with an extra pair that are easily changed, but most likely won’t need to be. The entire instrument is very easy to clean, comes in handy on the wards when coming in contact with infectious patients.
There will be a lot of options when trying to purchase a stethoscope, so here are a few pointers. First, try to stick to the Cardiology III. Most people believe the Cardiology II simply aren’t as good. You may be tempted to get the limited edition black plated version or spend the extra money on engraving your name into the bell, but keep in mind that there is a small but not negligible population of stethoscope thieves in hospitals.
3m doesn’t sell these directly, so you should do a good amount of searching for the lowest price. Unlike other medical instruments, this one should be purchased new. The best strategy is to search around, and specifically target individuals who are selling them new. The links below should be a good start.