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The Daily Rhino
Sunday, January 22, 2006

How's it Hanging?
WHAT does the way you wear your stethoscope say about you? The Daily Rhino examines the various stetho styles and finds that like most things in life, it's mostly about sex.

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THE STETHOSCOPE was a godsend when it first appeared in 1991. Prior to this, doctors would routinely have to slice open their patients in order to better understand their ailments. This led to a schism between the physicians and the barbershop surgeons, who were a band of wandering lute-playing tramps that cut people open in barbershops. You know, after their short back & sides. This is why we now call physicians ‘Dr’ and surgeons ‘Mr’.

I’m rather a gifted stethoscopist myself, in fact I once diagnosed a double amputation with my stetho. I failed to hear a thoracic rebound echo from the legs and I said to the man “Sir! You have no legs!” It turned out he was dead as well, but hey you can’t diagnose EVERYTHING. After all, I’m learning.


Thanks to Holly Thompson for the photographs.


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The n00bie

This look enjoys wide popularity amongst first year clinical students. They’re new on the wards, full of excitement and spreading MRSA about enthusiastically. Sweaty laundry-issued white coats still cause a frisson of excitement in the newbie and he or she fills their pockets full of useless paraphernalia. James models a classic third year pose; head in a book, in preparation for a consultant rogering.

The stethoscope itself is buried, as the newbie feels out of place and does not wish to draw attention to a tool he has no idea how to use. He knows nothing about medicine and should not be polluting the wards with his presence. Doctors wear their stethos around their neck, not rookie scum. Nurses curse him for getting in their way. He will kill at least eight patients on his first firm. Whilst the newbie style is acceptable for a third year, it is deeply offensive if worn by someone who has been on the wards for over a year. They must be ritually beaten and outcast from medical school.




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The Classic II

A junior doctor favourite, the Classic II is at its sweetest when adopted using the Littman Classic II, the deputy-gangster of all auscultation apparatus.

Radhika shows off her assets by modelling the Classic II Royale - a variation on the symmetrical Classic II, carried off by only true experts. In the Royale, the chest piece rests lower down than the ear pieces - an immensely controversial move when first unveiled at the World Expo in 1992.

The other variation on the Classic II is the ‘St. George’s McDaddy Big Kahuna’, which positions the chest piece over the second intercostal space. This achieves a near-perfect weight equilibrium, but as it not recommended for women with a cup size over an ‘A’, it tends to be a male preserve.









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The Goofy

Skateboarding famously stole this term from the medical profession. Aarany suggestively models this style, which is more popular amongst girls. Goofies are more likely to be left-handed, mentally challenged or from GKT. A
NEJM study recently showed that those favouring the goofy tend to be more likely to be admitted to a psychiatric ward or become psychiatrists themselves. It can be tempting to ridicule those wearing the goofy, as they are usually slow and foolish. But don’t be nasty to goofies. They’re not different, they’re special.






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The Lasso

Beth demonstrates this unusual noose-like style for us. Those who wear the lasso are a strange bunch. Once again, this is more popular amongst girls. Most stethoscopologists believe this is a cynical attempt to draw attention to their breasts, by focussing the stethoscope’s energy upon their central cleavage chakra point. The girls themselves just giggle and say that’s silly.

Lassoists want to give the impression they are very busy. They want to people to think that their stethoscope NEEDS to be like that as they spend so much time running around. They want people to think they’re hard-working. They want people to admire them. They want people to look at their breasts.





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The Surgeon

Surgeons are chilled out cats. They bowl up late, wear chinos with no tie and leave as much as they can to their juniors. So it comes as no surprise that the surgeon often forgets his stetho. The firm’s FY1’s most important job is to lend his or her steth to the consultant on at least a daily basis.

Colorectal surgeons need to listen to bowel sounds, cardiothoracic surgeons need to listen for rubs and vascular surgeons need to hear bruits. Orthopaedic surgeons don’t need stethoscopes though - the mess TV usually has surround sound.






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The Consultant

Anish models this fascinating style, which stems from our primitive hunter-gatherer roots. When our simian ancestors used to dress up and play doctors and nurses, the biggest, most virile ape used to lead. He would have free reign to impregnate whichever female he wanted. Other apes would know who the leader was by a ceremonial mark made around his groin. Hence male consultants wear their stethoscope in such a manner as to highlight their two weapons - it points from their head straight to their penis, the source of all power.





Originally published in Medical Student Newspaper and subsequently in Quack
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Comments:
I love it! And good, I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds it raunchy when docs wear their steths in the 'consultant' style. It bonks around too much down ... there.

I was waiting for you to mention the short coat/long coat thing (or is that something we only do in the States?). No matter how you wear your stethoscope it's hard to feel smooth when you're running around in your short white coat which is only hip-length so it's flapping around everywhere, your pockets bulging with mostly useless medical crap like tuning forks and 8-lb 'mini' manuals and butterfly needles and test tubes and half-eaten energy bars banging painfully on your thigh.

I swear between the crammed pockets and the awkward length on the that thing you can't button it without looking like you have an ass the size of Rhode Island.
 
We do have the short coats here, but they're less popular. The big difference between the States and here is white coats in general. We don't wear them much. I can't stand them and haven't worn one for years. Clinical trials back me up - they're bad hygiene (I may have made that up).

Most first year docs don't wear white coats here, maybe 30-40% do. However, when I'm forced to, my pockets are empty. Perhaps because I like to think I'm the last of a dying breed, the master physician who needs no fancy modern gear, perhaps because I'm paranoid weight will make me shorter or perhaps because I forgot everything when I rolled out of bed after the ward round started.
 
Hm, yes I understand. I have seen plenty of frighteningly dirty short white coats that look like they've had a few too many bouts with chlamydia.

Alas, I wish my pockets could be as light as yours. The more you have in your brain the less you need to carry around with you. (And vice versa, I guess.)
 
Hey, I didn't say I got anything right...
 
I suppose I'm a goofy/cardio III...yup a left with a Littman III.

Of course, that's only when I'm brave enough to move past the Newbie look...which is rare these days.
 
Token RN chiming in, here: Normally, I'll wear a stethoscope as shown in the Classic II shot. If it's a particularly busy day, though, the head of the 'scope will end up somewhere around T5 while the earpieces dangle in front. Don't ask me why.
 
You realize you've totally traumatized my experience as a patient.
 
I much prefer the slung over one shoulder 'too cool for school' look for an advance of the 'newbie' but not quite the 'classic II'. It's an understated statement of your thoughts on current neo-classicalism for the 21st century.
 
haha interesting styles, I didn't know that the way a medical care people wear a stethoscope would say a lot, i will pay more attention to my doctor now. It's a shame the pictures were removed though
 
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