25 March 2010

The Great Stethoscope Debate

There is an unwritten, but vastly vocalised rule in medical school. It goes something like this....

DO NOT WEAR YOUR STETHOSCOPE AROUND YOUR NECK WHEN YOU DO NOT KNOW HOW TO USE IT!

...and by this, I mean unless you can do more than listen to a heartbeat, you shouldn't be proudly displaying it like a badge, or oversized piece of jewellery. Because, let's face it, that's what it is.

Medical students in the lower years often have a day or two at the hospital every year, and every year you see them waltzing around the canteen with stethoscopes around their necks. Even the fifth years don't do this. This is why God invented pockets or small handbags.

Wearing it on a ward round, when walking around the hospital generally is fine, when you know how to use it, but the canteen is just wrong. It would be like wearing it while on public transport. It's not big, it's not cool and it's not clever.

Rant over


9 comments:

anotherstudentdoctor said...

Gah, I totally agree! I never wear mine, I feel like too much of a tool. Glad you posted this though - thought I was a minority who felt this way!

Dash said...

You are allowed to in final year here, mainly because pockets are full of everything else! But only in the wards or around the hospital.
I did wear mine today to the canteen, although in my defence I had 20mins for lunch and no time to change. Ooops.

Asclepius said...

I couldnt agree more. That being said I'm afraid some of the genius med students have that passed through my ward recently have caused me to question the level of medical school standards. I know as a third year student nurse I am more comfortable with the ward environment but if you hear an emergency buzzer going and there is a phone left off the hook you dont hang the phone up and beep the house officer you are meant to be following this morning because shes five minutes late.

I left the phone off the hook when switchboard phoned to ask if we had everyone we needed. I hadnt seen the anesthetist arrive so I went to check. I come back to see the medical student hanging the phone up wordlessly.

Tom Reynolds said...

It's just little kids, coming out of sixth form trying to look grown up.

Pro-tip - if it doesn't fit in a pocket, cut it shorter, that way it will fit and you'll have to lean in closer to the patient giving you the chance to smell ketones or faecal matter on the breath.

We get the same in the ambulance service (and I have to admit I was guilty of this as well) only with us it is 'bat-belt syndrome', carrying a complete ambulance and rescue kit filling the numerous pouches hanging off your belt.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the tourniquets as well! Got to have your tourniquet on you in the canteen!

Dash said...

Tourniquet? In the canteen? Nah. That's just excessive :P

Good idea about the trimming Tom, but I need to stay as far away as possible from some of my patients as they try to kill me. Who'd work with animals?

Chris said...

One of my fellow first years was mistaken for a consultant for this very reason when we were practising taking blood pressures the other week. She promptly asked him for a diagnosis and drugs which made the day much more interesting :)

nickopotamus said...

I confess to being a "stethoscope around the neck" type of guy, but only when wandering around the hospital, and due to the fact my pockets are all too small to contain the (already short, Tom :P) stethoscope in addition to tourniquet, OHCM, etc.

However, on attending the canteen, the stethoscope comes off (onto the tray most likely, but at least it's not around my neck), and when working on the road with the luxury of combats everything goes into pockets.

Simon Mung said...

i completely agree. a hierarchy system exists and if you don't meet the expectations of wearing a stethoscope it is best not to wear it! i carry it in my pocket (don't wear white coats here) but i can sympathise those who wear it because they don't have spaces in their pockets