“What’s the best way to carry a stethoscope?” is probably a question that no one has ever asked because the answer seems stupidly obvious. You carry it around your neck.
Every nurse, doctor, EMT, medic, or healthcare worker in every picture, TV show, or child’s drawing will have their stethoscope draped around their neck, ready for action.
It’s so common that the question posed seems, well, let’s repeat ourselves – stupidly obvious. Right? But if you asked a nurse that question, chances are they’re going to give you a different answer.
Actually, there are several different answers to how you carry a stethoscope around all day.
We’re going to look at some different ways to carry your stethoscope that are comfortable, safe, easily accessible, and won’t have you asking “Where the heck is my stethoscope?”.
Why You Shouldn’t Carry Your Stethoscope Around Your Neck
Many nurses, doctors, and healthcare professionals indeed wear their stethoscope around their neck. It’s so common that the image of a healthcare professional with a stethoscope draped around their neck is a cultural icon around the world.
As much of a cliche as it may be, draping your stethoscope around your neck might not be the best idea – here’s why:
It Gets Heavy
Even if you have a lightweight model, after about 6 hours into a 12-hour shift, that stethoscope can feel like it weighs 1000 pounds.
And if you’re sporting a high-tech specialized best digital stethoscope (which are really cool) they’re even heavier.
Skin Oil Can Damage The Tubing
The part of the stethoscope that will be hanging around your neck is the tubing and the oil from your skin can damage or degrade it.
You Can Get A Contact Infection
A stethoscope can be crawling with all kinds of nasties, including MRSA. That means if it’s draped around your neck, you may be opening yourself up to contact infection.
Patients Can Grab It
A stethoscope dangling around your neck is the perfect handle for a patient to grab hold of and could pose a safety risk in some settings such as psychiatric care.
It’s Easier To Lose
Have you ever turned around and wondered where your stethoscope is? Maybe it fell off when you were getting out of the car or bending over a patient’s bed.
Wearing it around your neck makes it easier to get lost.
Other Ways To Carry Your Stethoscope
Ok, so maybe now you’re thinking that you need some other carry options. Easy. There’s not much to it.
The most likely place that you’ll find a stethoscope stashed is in a scrubs pocket. Most scrubs have pockets large enough to hold a stethoscope and if you want some extra options, get a pair of scrub cargo pants.
If you add a scrubs jacket, you’ve got even more options.
Pockets keep stethoscopes safe from snags, drops, losing them, and most importantly right at hand.
Many brands of scrubs include a loop to hold your stethoscope or other gear. They’re often made from stretchable bungee material or are a wide fabric loop. They can be located on the shoulder or at the hip.
Want some custom add-ons for better performance, comfort, and fun of your stethoscope? Try a stethoscope hip holster or clip. They keep your stethoscope safe, secure, and ready for action.
Over The Shoulder
Nothing difficult about this option – just sling your stethoscope over your shoulder. It makes for a less heavy-feeling carry and if you’re handy with a needle (no pun intended) you can sew a DIY shoulder loop or velcro patch to keep from sliding off.
Bonus: Stethoscope Storage Tips
When you don’t need your stethoscope (maybe you’re busy charting) or you’re done for the day, here are some simple, no-brainer tips on how you can safely store your gear to keep it safe, secure, and undamaged.
Use The Case
Most stethoscopes come with a storage bag or case. Use it. That’s what it’s for.
It’ll help prevent scratches, tears, or punctures in the tubing and always be where you left it (well, unless you lose the bag).
Be Careful With The Tubing
The tubing of stethoscopes is vulnerable to punctures and tears but also folding or kinking it can damage it. When you roll it up or fold it over for storage, make sure the tube is straight with no folds.
Can I Leave My Stethoscope In The Car?
No. Sure, it’s convenient so you don’t forget it, but temperature extremes of high heat or freezing cold will damage your stethoscope so take it inside.
It’s not rocket science, but we’ve given you a few alternate carry methods to try other than the old around the neck method.
Try out your scrubs loops. Find an extra pocket. Or get yourself a holster and some extra gear.
Maybe you can come up with a carry style that nobody’s thought of and share it with the rest of us.