As one of the most versatile and important members of a patient’s treatment team you need to make sure you’re using all the right tools. Very few are going to be as important as having the right stethoscope.
The right and wrong stethoscope is the difference between detecting subtle changes in the patient’s condition…and not.
To help you in this very important decision we’ve put together a list of the top 10 stethoscopes for physician assistants along with our favorites.
*FYI the links on this article about best stethoscopes for physician assistants may be affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase we may get a commission. For more info please see our disclaimer.
- Best Overall: 3M Littmann Cardiology IV
- Best Budget: 3M Littmann Classic III
- Best for Pediatric PAs: ADC Adscope 603 Clinician Stethoscope
- Best for Cardiac PAs: 3M Master Cardiology Stethoscope
- Best for PA Students: 3M Littmann Classic III
Best Stethoscopes for Physician Assistants
1. 3M Littmann Classic III
- Monitor and assess a wide range of patients
- Detect normal and abnormal sounds and rhythms
- Useful in non critical care environments such as a medical office, general ward, OB,GYN, ambulatory clinic or urgent care
There’s nothing quite like a classic to get the job done, and this 3M Littmann Classic III stethoscope certainly does just that.
It’s appropriate for non-critical care settings and features a tunable diaphragm on both the adult and pediatric side of the chestpiece.
The chestpiece for the pediatric side converts to an open bell for more accurate assessments.
All of the parts are latex and phthalate-free so they are safe for use on even the most sensitive skin.
The tubing and remaining parts are very durable and easy-to-clean so they last a long time.
- Tunable diaphragm
- Pediatric and adult chestpiece
- Latex-free parts
- Not suitable for critical care settings
- A little heavy
- A bit pricey
Check the price of the 3M Littmann Classic III on Amazon.com
2. 3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E.
- Provides reliable acoustic performance for taking blood pressure readings and making limited physical assessments of adult patients
- Tunable diaphragm responds with a simple pressure change to capture low and high-frequency sounds
- Tear-drop shape for easy fit under blood pressure cuff
The teardrop shape of this 3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E. stethoscope sets it apart from other stethoscopes because it’s easier to slide under a blood pressure cuff.
In addition to easily taking a patient’s blood pressure, this can also be used to assess a patient’s heart, lungs, and other vitals.
It’s one of the most lightweight stethoscopes you can own, weighing in at just 118 grams. This makes it much more comfortable to wear around the neck for longer periods of time.
The tunable diaphragm is another great feature that makes assessing patients much easier.
- Teardrop shaped chestpiece
- Very lightweight
- Tune diaphragm with pressure change
- Difficult to hear faint sounds
- Chestpiece isn’t very durable
- Fits too loosely in the ear canal
Check the price of the 3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E. on Amazon.com
3. 3M Littmann Cardiology IV
- Diagnose and make decisions with confidence
- Hear subtle changes in patient status
- Useful in critical care and challenging environments such as the ED, ICU, Cardiac ICU, step-down unit and other dynamic locations
Made from durable stainless steel and some of the finest tubing around, this 3M Littmann Cardiology IV stethoscope is suitable for both critical and non-critical settings.
Its tunable diaphragm can hear even the slightest changes in patient status, making it easier to catch critical situations before they turn dire.
The tubing is strong and free of latex and phthalates, so it’s safe to use on patients with sensitive skin.
There’s a non-chill rim on the diaphragm for added patient comfort, and the rim also helps to keep the bell free of dirt and debris.
- Suitable for critical care settings
- Non-chill rim
- Easy-to-clean bell and diaphragm
- Thick tubing
- A bit heavy for wearing around the neck
- Complaints of aqua color staining easily
Check the price of the 3M Littmann Cardiology IV on Amazon.com
4. 3M Master Cardiology Stethoscope
- Chest piece delivers Littmann’s highest acoustic performance along with handcrafted, eye catching design
- Tunable diaphragm responds with a simple pressure change to capture low and high frequency sounds
- Twoinone tube design (dual lumen) eliminates noise interference from two external tubes rubbing together
Superior sound and ease-of-use combine to make this 3M Master Cardiology Stethoscope perfect for critical care settings.
It has a tunable diaphragm that switches from high to low frequency with just a simple pressure change.
The non-chill rim on the diaphragm keeps the patient comfortable while you assess them. The dual lumen tubing eliminates the rubbing sounds that can often interfere with properly assessing a patient.
The tubing is thick, yet flexible, so it provides excellent sound quality but can still be securely worn around the neck.
A comfortable, angled headset further makes this stethoscope appealing.
- Tunable diaphragm
- Dual lumen tubing
- Angled headset
- Headset may be tight at first
- Tubing material has a sticky feel to it
- Complaints of tubing cracking
Check the price of the 3M Master Cardiology Stethoscope on Amazon.com
5. ADC Adscope 603 Clinician Stethoscope
- INCREDIBLE ACOUSTICS: Proprietarty adjustable frequency design (AFD) technology enhances acoustic performance; use light pressure for low frequencies, firm pressure for high frequencies. Individually acoustic tested in the USA
- RUGGED: Combination chestpiece is precision CNC machined to exacting tolerances from surgical stainless steel. Non chill bell and diaphragm provide wide-frequency response and patient comfort
- COMPACT & COMFORTABLE: Clinician headset features silicone reinforcing yoke molded into flexible phthalate-free PVC tubing, stainless steel binaurals, and Adsoft Plus snap-on silicone eartips for the ultimate in wearing comfort and acoustic seal. Overall length 30 inches, weight 5.8 oz
This ADC Adscope 603 Clinician Stethoscope is built to last, with a durable stainless steel chestpiece and flexible PVC tubing.
The chestpiece features a non-chill rim for patient comfort. The tunable diaphragm can be switched from high frequency to low frequency by applying less pressure.
This stethoscope is a worthwhile investment, since it comes with additional eartips and a Lifetime Warranty.
The warranty covers free replacements on consumable parts.
All of the parts are latex-free so it won’t irritate the skin. The silicone eartips are comfortable to wear for long periods of time and they mold to the ear canal, providing better sound quality.
- Non-chill rim
- Lifetime warranty
- Comfortable eartips
- Tubing stains easily
- Inconsistent sound quality
- Eartips may break easily
Check the price of the ADC Adscope 603 Clinician Stethoscope on Amazon.com
6. ADC Adscope 615 Professional Stethoscope
- INCREDIBLE ACOUSTICS: Proprietary adjustable frequency design (AFD) technology enhances acoustic performance; use light pressure for low frequencies, firm pressure for high frequencies. Individually acoustic tested in the USA.
- ERGONOMIC: Sculpted oversized chestpiece is precision CNC machined to exacting tolerances from lightweight alloy. Overall length 30 inches, weight 5.4 oz.
- COMPACT & COMFORTABLE: Clinician headset features silicone reinforcing yoke molded into flexible phthalate-free PVC tubing, stainless steel binaurals, and Adsoft Plus snap-on silicone eartips for the ultimate in wearing comfort and acoustic seal.
This ADC Adscope 615 Professional Stethoscope features a large chestpiece, but it’s still lightweight, which makes it truly stand out from other stethoscopes.
The diaphragm is tunable and can switch between high and low frequency sounds by applying more or less pressure.
The sculpted chestpiece allows you to grip it securely, making this task even easier.
Durable PVC tubing is free of latex and phthalates so it’s suitable for those with sensitive skin.
It’s flexible and lightweight so it can comfortably be worn around the neck for an entire shift.
All parts are also covered by a Lifetime Warranty.
- Tunable diaphragm
- Large, sculpted chestpiece
- Lifetime Warranty
- Doesn’t come with a carrying case
- Ear pieces aren’t very durable
- Inconsistent sound quality
Check the price of the ADC Adscope 615 Professional Stethoscope on Amazon.com
7. ADC Adscope 600 Platinum Series
- INCREDIBLE ACOUSTICS: Proprietarty adjustable frequency design (AFD) technology enhances acoustic performance; use light pressure for low frequencies, firm pressure for high frequencies. Individually acoustic tested in the USA.
- ERGONOMIC: Sculpted chestpiece is precision CNC machined to exacting tolerances from surgical stainless steel. Length 27 inches, weight 7.15 oz.
- HIGH PERFORMANCE: Cardiology headset features dual-channel phthalate-free tubing, large bore black anodized aluminum binaurals, and Adsoft Plus snap-on silicone eartips for the ultimate in wearing comfort and acoustic seal.
Physician Assistants working in critical care settings like the cardiology department will appreciate the incredible acoustics that this ADC Adscope 600 Platinum Series stethoscope offers.
It features an adjustable frequency design that can hear both high and low frequencies in addition to exceptional tubing that virtually eliminates exterior noises.
Factor in the silicone eartips that mold to the ear canal, and it’s no wonder this has some of the best acoustics around.
All of the parts are also backed by a Lifetime Warranty, with free replacements on consumable parts like eartips and the diaphragm.
- Tunable diaphragm
- Comfortable silicone eartips
- Free replacement parts
- Tubing is not very long
- Consumable parts may need frequent replacing
- Tends to slide off the neck easily
Check the price of the ADC Adscope 600 Platinum Series on Amazon.com
8. ADC Adscope Adimals 618
- INCREDIBLE ACOUSTICS: Proprietarty adjustable frequency design (AFD) technology enhances acoustic performance; use light pressure for low frequencies, firm pressure for high frequencies. Individually acoustic tested in the USA..
- CHILD FRIENDLY: Distinctive molded-resin animal face chestpiece with 7 interchangeable snap-on's: Panda, Frog, Koala, Deer, Monkey, Tiger, and Bear
- COMPACT & COMFORTABLE: Clinician headset features silicone reinforcing yoke molded into flexible phthalate-free PVC tubing, lightweight aluminum alloy binaurals, and Adsoft Plus snap-on silicone eartips for the ultimate in wearing comfort and acoustic seal. Overall length 30 inches, weight 3.0 oz.
If you work with pediatric patients, you and your patients will absolutely love this adorable ADC Adscope Adimals 618 stethoscope.
It comes with 7 interchangeable chestpiece designs, including a bear, panda, frog, koala, tiger, monkey, and deer.
The cute designs will put your youngest patients at ease so you can properly assess them.
Aside from its cute appearance, this stethoscope performs well too.
It has a tunable diaphragm so you can hear both high and low frequency sounds, latex-free PVC tubing that’s the perfect length for wearing around the neck, and comfortable silicione eartips.
- 7 cute, interchangeable chestpiece designs
- Tunable diaphragm
- Latex and phthalate-free tubing
- Tubing has a sticky texture
- Not suitable for adult patients
- Certain tubing colors fade over time
Check the price of the ADC Adscope Adimals 618 on Amazon.com
9. MDF MD One Dual Head Stethoscope
- Handcrafted Since 1971 | Free-parts-for-life Program | Lifetime Warranty | Latex-free
- 100% stainless steel construction and acoustically-superior stainless steel
- PRE-ANGLED > ErgonoMax Headset is anatomically angled at 15 degrees for a precise fit
This MDF MD One Dual Head Stethoscope is beautifully designed and looks very professional.
It’s handcrafted from durable stainless steel so it’s built to last for a long time.
All of the parts are backed by a Lifetime Warranty with free replacements on consumable parts, so it’s an even better bang for your buck.
The stethoscope is free of latex, so it’s suitable to use on all of your patients without worries of an allergic reaction.
The eartips were created with your safety in mind, virtually eliminating the possibility of a punctured eardrum.
- Durable stainless steel construction
- Lifetime Warranty and free replacements on consumable parts
- Latex-free materials for sensitive skin
- Chestpiece scratches easily
- Tubing is stiff
- Inconsistent sound quality
Check the price of the MDF MD One Dual Head Stethoscope on Amazon.com
10. MDF Classic Cardiology Stethoscope
- Handcrafted Since 1971 | Lifetime Warranty | Free-Parts-for-Life Program | Latex-Free
- STAINLESS STEEL CONSTRUCTION > Acoustically-superior stainless steel
- SECURED TWICE > Dual-leaf spring construction offers twice the durability
The MDF Classic Cardiology Stethoscope looks and performs great, with several high-quality features that make it suitable for all critical care settings, including cardiology.
The acoustics are superb, with an extra-deep bell and exceptional diaphragm that ensures you’re providing the most accurate assessment to your patients.
The dual-head chestpiece allows you to switch between high and low frequencies easily.
The duel lumen tubing also helps with the accuracy of assessing patients because it reduces the rubbing which can interfere with a proper diagnosis.
Each stethoscope is also backed by a Lifetime Warranty and Free-Parts-For-Life program.
- Dual-head chestpiece for high and low frequency
- Deep bell
- Lifetime Warranty
- Some tubing colors stain easily
- A bit heavy
- Coating on chestpiece may chip over time
Check the price of the MDF-Cardiology-Stainless-Stethoscope-Free-Parts on Amazon.com
Stethoscope Buying Guide for Physician Assistants
1. High and Low Frequency Sounds
The ability for a stethoscope to detect both high and low frequency sounds is important when properly assessing a patient.
High frequency sounds like breaths and low frequency sounds like blood pumping through the veins both play a crucial role in diagnosing and treating a patient.
A tunable diaphragm that switches between high and low frequency sounds with a simple pressure change is a desirable feature.
Some chestpieces come with a dual head, where one side detects high frequency sounds and the other side detects low frequency sounds.
2. Safe Materials
You want a stethoscope that is safe to use for both you and your patients. This means purchasing a stethoscope that’s made from only the best materials.
Materials that are free of latex and phthalates are some things to look for when you’re purchasing a safe stethoscope.
Latex can cause both mild and severe allergic reactions in some people. Mild reactions can consist of a skin rash while severe reactions can include anaphylaxis.
Phthalates are chemicals found in some plastics that can cause reproductive harm if exposed to in high amounts.
Stethoscope tubing that is phthalate-free is ideal in order to avoid this potential exposure.
You may think that the heavier the stethoscope, the better it is, but heavy stethoscopes can be very uncomfortable to wear around the neck for long periods of time.
Heavier stethoscopes may even cause headaches and neck pain. A lightweight stethoscope can still be durable as long as it’s made from high-quality materials like stainless steel and PVC tubing.
PVC tubing is a great alternative to other types of tubing because it’s both durable and lightweight.
It’s also free of latex and phthalates.
It does have a bit of a sticky feeling to it after it’s cleaned, but it doesn’t change its effectiveness or the benefits of it, particularly its comfortable and lightweight feel.
4. Lifetime Warranty
Even the best companies and highest-quality materials should be backed by a Lifetime Warranty.
Accidents can happen, especially with such a demanding job like a Physician Assistant.
A stethoscope that’s backed by a Lifetime Warranty is a worthwhile investment because you can rest assured that frequently-used parts like the eartips and diaphragm are free to replace.
These parts tend to become damaged over time, even if you take every possible precaution and care for your stethoscope very well.
5. Adult Vs. Pediatric Patients
Adult patients have different needs than pediatric patients, especially because of their size.
A smaller stethoscope is more suitable for pediatric patients, as is one with a non-chill rim for their comfort.
A few other things to consider when thinking of pediatric versus adult needs are:
- A fun color/design
- Safe materials
- A teardrop-shaped chestpiece for easier blood pressure readings
- A sculpted chestpiece that’s easy to grip for patients that don’t sit still
A stethoscope is one of the most important tools for any medical professional, but Physician Assistant’s particularly rely on it to properly assess their patients.
Looking for a stethoscope with features that meet your specific needs in terms of functionality, looks, and effectiveness will ensure your stethoscope purchase is worthwhile.