The stethoscope is undoubtedly one of medicine’s most recognizable symbols. I’ve had the same Littmann Cardiology III stethoscope since the beginning of medical school, but only today did I really reflect on how far we’ve come as a pair in this journey of medical training.
As a timid first year medical student, this stethoscope was my first noninvasive tool to diagnose and guide therapy. I learned how to recognize rales, rhonchi, and wheezing while listening over the lung fields, different kinds of murmurs, rubs, and gallops on a cardiac auscultation, bowel sounds indicative of ileus, obstruction, etc. on the belly, and even heard a carotid bruit or two before graduating!
As an anesthesiology resident, I routinely use my scope to confirm endotracheal tube positioning after intubation, assess for cardiopulmonary changes in the intensive care unit, and have used the edge as a “reflex hammer” (ahem – obstetric patients on magnesium).
This stethoscope has seen me through the longest admitting days, the most chaotic code blues, and the most gruesome trauma cases. Its allowed me to teach medical students and more junior residents the finer points of a cardiopulmonary exam. And I hope it sees me continue to mature as a healthcare provider in the years to come. 🙂