The 8 Best Stethoscopes for Nurses to Buy in 2018

Get the right fit for your workday needs

Any nurse will tell you that there’s far more to choosing a stethoscope than coordinating the tubing with your scrubs. Acoustic quality, ambient noise cancellation, and sturdy construction with a reliable warranty or replacement parts are all vital for reading other people’s vitals. Consideration like dual heads versus tunable heads, single versus double tubing, and plastic versus silicone earpieces also play a role when you’re hunting for your ideal equipment.

You’ll want the best match for your clinical role and personal comfort when you’re spending long days in the ward or working as a traveling nurse on the road, but when you’re living on a busy nurse’s schedule it’s hard to find time to dig around online for the perfect stethoscope.

We’ve done the tough research for you, and the following selections are the top stethoscopes for nurses.

Best Overall: 3M Littmann Classic III Stethoscope

This gold-standard equipment is Amazon’s #1 bestselling stethoscope, with more than 3,000 positive reviews. It’s recommended for nurses in non-emergency environments, like medical offices, general wards, and urgent cares. The stethoscope’s high acoustic sensitivity and versatile two-sided chest piece with tunable diaphragms make it great for nursing students or professionals who need quality sound in a durable, affordable package.

It’s available in 18 colors and seven finishes so you can add a personal touch to your scrubs, and it’s easy to clean so it’ll stay looking sharp and working flawlessly for years.

Fans of this model loved its crystal-clear sound for lung, heart, and bowel diagnoses. Several reviewers mentioned the stethoscope’s superb noise-cancellation, and they were reassured by the company’s five-year warranty.

Best Budget: MDF Acoustica Deluxe Lightweight Dual Head Stethoscope

The MDF Acoustica Deluxe Lightweight Dual Head Stethoscope matches the quality and durability of high-end models for an affordable price.

Besides having everything you need to get an acoustic diagnosis of the lungs, this stethoscope is lightweight and has a non-chilling rim. Soft silicone earpieces in three sizes ensure you'll get the proper fit that is also comfortable. An added bonus is the tubing is longer than most, which gives the patient and nurse some space. 

This budget pick comes in 23 colors and gets high remarks from nurses for its price and performance. Many say this performs best for listening to the heart and lungs and the earpiece is comfortable for all-day use.

Best for the ICU and ER: 3M Littmann Cardiology IV Diagnostic Stethoscope

When making a diagnosis with a stethoscope, what you don’t hear is just as important as the heartbeat you do hear. In challenging environments like the ER and ICU, you’ll have to battle lots of ambient noise to make an accurate assessment and help your patient. The Littmann Cardiology IV Diagnostic Stethoscope is perfect for nurses in busy environments.

This stethoscope detects seemingly minor shifts in tone or rhythm, and it’s engineered to help you pick up quieter sounds from the human heart. Dual-lumen tubing eliminates distracting rubbing noises, and snap-tight ear tips create a perfect seal to block out noises from the most chaotic emergency wards.

Several paramedics and cardiac nurses gave this stethoscope high marks for Littmann’s quality and unparalleled sound. It’s a bit pricier than other Littmann options, but not as expensive as their other cardiology scopes (making it less risky to lose during hectic rounds).

Best for Pediatric Nurses: ADC Adscope Animals 618 Pediatric Stethoscope

Going to the doctor isn’t fun for anyone, but getting kids to hold still so you can get the vitals you need makes your job even trickier. ADC’s stethoscope makes things easier for pediatric nurses by adding fun animal friends to your stethoscope.

This stethoscope puts the acoustic response of a traditional bell and diaphragm stethoscope into a one-sided chest piece that lets you switch between frequencies by altering pressure, leaving room on the other side for a snap-on animal face. Kids can have their pick of the litter from a panda, frog, monkey, deer, koala, tiger, or bear, and fun tubing colors like seafoam green or pink make this pick even more K-to-5 friendly.

Nurses on Amazon loved this equipment’s quality for the price and mentioned how helpful it was for fussier patients.

Best for Nursing Students: MDF Sprague Rappaport Dual Head Stethoscope

If you’re a nursing student who needs a versatile stethoscope at an affordable price, the Sprague Rappaport is an excellent choice. It has an accessory kit that includes adult, pediatric, and infant diaphragm assemblies for easy transitioning between populations. The dual lumen tubing provides one sound channel for each ear, and the custom Accufit headset adjusts to your specifications so you can hear every beat.

Customers loved the earpiece’s perfect sizing and comfortable fit. The Rappaport also comes with Sprague’s guarantee of free replacement parts for life, so you can bring this stethoscope with you through nursing school to graduation and beyond.

Best for Cardiology: 3M Littmann Master Cardiology Stethoscope

Littmann’s most recent addition to their cardiology line has some of the best acoustic response on the market, perfect for cardiology nurses who need to hear a full range of sounds to make an accurate diagnosis for sensitive heart conditions. It’s also got Littmann’s superior craftsmanship, with a handcrafted stainless steel chest piece and the company’s Snap-Tight Soft Sealing Eartips for a perfect fit.

Cardiology professionals who purchased this stethoscope appreciated the scope’s sensitivity, nothing that they could easily differentiate between subtle differences like heart murmur grading and pulmonary sounds. One cardiology nurse with diminished hearing noted that this stethoscope made her job much easier and that it could help other medical professionals in similar situations.

Most Stylish: MDF Rose Gold MD One

If you’ve been working as a nurse for a while, you’ve probably gone through more than one stethoscope. Function is obviously the most important consideration when you’re choosing a tool you’ll use every day, but there’s no reason that your stethoscope can’t look beautiful too. MDF’S MD One is a high-performance scope that comes in a beautiful rose-gold finish with white tubing for a softer, more elegant look.

This scope has all of the specs you’d look for in a quality piece of equipment. It has a dual-head chest piece to capture different frequencies, extra-thick and sturdy latex-free tubing that lasts, and a lifetime supply of replacement parts. The rose gold finish makes it a great gift for fashion-forward nursing graduates, and it’s also a stellar choice for any nurse who wants a stylish accessory to spice up their scrubs.

Amazon reviewers were happy that the MD One’s form matched its function—nurses got plenty of compliments on it, and some reviewers said the sound quality was comparable to Littmann’s stethoscopes.

Best Carrying Case for Traveling Nurses: Caseling Hard Case

If you’re a traveling nurse, you’re going to need a reliable case to protect your stethoscope. There are plenty of options available online, but the Caseling Hard Case travel bag fits the overwhelmingly popular Littmann Classic III Stethoscope for a fraction of the cost of its competitors.

This case is constructed of premium hard EVA (a flexible yet durable foam) to carefully cushion your stethoscope and accessories. It’s water-resistant and shockproof for unexpected drops or downpours when you’re on the road. It also comes with an interior mesh pocket and a penlight holder, organizing your tools for quick access.

The Caseling’s sturdy construction has garnered hundreds of positive Amazon reviews. Nurses mentioned that it held up to being thrown into bags, dropped, or stepped on, all for a low price.

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