Medical Student Tools and Equipment


Get a good stethoscope. Seriously. Invest in a nice one because you will use it every single day for at LEAST your third and fourth year of medical school and first year of residency. These ones are popular and receive good reviews:

Welch Allyn Harvey Elite

This is the Welch Allyn Harvey Elite stethoscope. I bought this stethoscope as a first year medical student and it has stood up to years and years of abuse. It has the classic diaphragm and bell, compared to many of the Littman stethoscopes which use a “tunable diaphragm” that depends on varying degrees of pressure to pick up different frequencies. This was a great stethoscope to learn with. 

Littman Mater Cardiology

This is the Littman Master Cardiology. I also now own one of these bad boys, purchased with some leftover flex account money. The acoustics are really incredible. This stethoscope uses a single tunable diaphragm, compared to many of the other Littmans which use two tunable diaphragms (a pediatric size and an adult size), or the Welch Allyn above which uses a diaphragm and a bell. I have been very happy with this stethoscope, and it has become the stethoscope that lives in my work bag, supplanting my Welch Allyn partly due to sentimentality, and partly because the tubing is more flexible so I can more easily stuff in into an over-packed bag. 

Littman Classic III

This is the Littman Classic III. It is probably the stethoscope that I see the most often on the wards in the hands of medical students. It’s adequate, though not quite as lovely as the master cardiology or the elite, and it’s less expensive than the other two.

Reflex Hammers

As a resident, I honestly mostly just use my stethoscope to check reflexes, but my med school wanted me to have a reflex hammer…

Taylor hammer

I would recommend a basic Taylor hammer. They are cheap, durable, and do pretty much everything a student needs.

Babinski hammer

Some people like a telescoping Babinski hammer. They can be easier to use than a Taylor hammer, and they are less awkward to carry around than a Tromner hammer. The wheel swings out to make something that looks like a drumstick, which you drop towards the site of interest rather than “hitting” it like you would with a Taylor hammer. Some also have a nice, sharp point for testing fine touch. 

Tromner hammer

I initially bought a fancier Tromner hammer, because it has the smaller head (for smaller reflexes?) and some have a built-in pin for testing fine touch. It was heavy, expensive, and awkward to carry around in my pocket. It quickly became a paperweight. I don’t recommend it. That being said, if you really want/need one for some reason, here you go:

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