Stethoscope Advice for Medical Students

best stethoscopes for medical students

Of all the instruments, equipment, and general stuff that you will need as a new medical student, the stethoscope is definitely one of the most essential pieces of medical equipment you’ll need to purchase. This is an item that you will use on a daily basis throughout your entire medical career, so make sure you’re choosing wisely and educating yourself on the different stethoscopes available before making a purchase.

What is the best stethoscope for medical students?

Because you’ll be using it so often and for so long, the stethoscope is a piece of medical equipment you really shouldn’t be cutting corners on unless you plan on replacing it somewhat regularly. But if you’re on a medical student budget, you probably don’t have a whole lot of extra dollars to purchase a top-notch stethoscope at this point in your career (and truth be told you really won’t need a super premium stethoscope unless you choose a specialty like cardiology where you must be able to hear the faintest murmurs).

The trick is to find a good quality, sturdy stethoscope that will suit your needs for the first several years of your medical career with a price point that makes sense.

One stethoscope brand that has recently made its way onto the medical instrument scene is ERKA, which just became available to purchase in the United States earlier this year in May. There are three FDA-approved ERKA models currently being sold on Medelita, each with a corresponding Littmann model.

erka vs littmann

How does ERKA compare to Littmann?

Littmann stethoscopes are certainly an acceptable option for any new medical student, but there are a few reasons that we prefer ERKA Finesse stethoscopes as our number one pick for medical students.

  1. Better value. The ERKA Finesse is much the same as the Littmann Classic III model, and they both come with solid warranties that show the manufacturer stands behind the quality of the item. However, the ERKA Finesse comes at a much lower price point ($90 vs $130) and it comes with its own stethoscope carrying case. With Littmann you must purchase the carrying case separately for around $10 plus shipping/handling.
  2. Durability. The chestpiece of the stethoscope is an essential part of the piece of equipment, but it must be sealed airtight or else the diaphragm won’t work properly. With Littmann stethoscopes, the diaphragm is sealed to the chestpiece with a PVC rubber ring, which starts to stiffen and break when it comes into contact with the oils produced by human skin. The chestpiece of ERKA stethoscopes are sealed internally, and the rubber ring is just for comfort so if it falls off, it’s still durable enough to avoid replacement right away.
  3. More hygienic. The metal parts of Littmann stethoscopes are made with stainless steel, a nice and durable option. ERKA stethoscopes are made of polished chrome-plated brass, which is far less porous and therefore less likely to carry bacteria.

No matter the stethoscope you choose, make sure it lasts as long as possible with these stethoscope maintenance tips

Ariel Jacoby
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