Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Liana’s post here had a somewhat off topic interest for me: how do you wear your steth?

For me it’s always been cumbersome and rather weighty around the neck. After 12 or more hours that relatively light piece of equipment begins to bore into the back of my neck, causing stiffness and discomfort. For a while I tried to just keep the ear pieces wrapped around my neck while the heavier piece dangled around my stomach, like a tie. However, apart from feeling like I was being strangled, I found this quite absurd when trying to write and bending over a patient during exams. Swoosh. Careening completely out of control whilst knocking the shit out of a patient or two.

I’ve seen those who favor wrapping their steths around their waists, using the drawstrings of their scrubs as a type of belt. It seems, however, that unless you are a tall, yet petite female, a very effeminate male, or have an instrument that’s so absurdly long you couldn’t hear a train while auscultating this just isn’t feasible.

There has been a resident or two whom I've seen wear a type of device they clip onto their belt or scrub pants that allows you to “holster” your steth. Apart from being a little odd looking I found this a fantastic device; keeping the cumbersome, yet completely necessary tool at one's side without taking up much space. Considering this, I have still not procured one for my own use - yet.

What I currently prefer, based on a surgical resident’s insight that "surgeons don't wear stethoscopes", is to just simply wrap it around itself as demonstrated below, and stuff it into my large white coat pocket. Out of sight, out of mind.

Now there are some disadvantages to this - like getting the ear pieces hooked on a piece of furniture and getting pulled to the floor as you run for that code, or eventual damage to the tubing necessitating another purchase - but for the most part I find it a helluva better alternative than wrapping it around my neck or having an episode of vasovagal syncope from bilateral carotid massages.


Ladyk73 said...

You know.....I guess I never noticed. I know my primary always wraps it around (like a scarf). I am sure he doesn't do a lot of running in the office. So when do med students buy their first one?

Liz said...

i usually wrap it around my neck but i've heard that ages the rubber prematurely (since women usually don't wear high-collared shirts, the rubber tubing rubs against our skin), so i bought one of those belt holster thingies. I haven't started using it yet but my husband uses it and likes it. He says that the downside is that when you sit down, it pops out of the holster.

MedStudentGod (MSG) said...


I don't know what other schools traditionally do, but my school placed the cost of various med supplies into our 1st year fees and presented us with a lot of shiny, new equipment our 2nd semester of 1st year.

Unfortunately a lot of that stuff has just been used during OSCE's and educational training, not on real patients. Too bulky and most clinics have that stuff already.

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