The unwritten rule about stethoscope placement

I have always believed that medical students should not wear their stethoscopes around their neck. I personally find it almost disrespectful and arrogant for medical students to do this and I have a number of reasons for feeling this way.

Historically speaking, doctors have been known to wear their stethoscope around their neck. It is a way of distinguishing a doctor from the rest of the health care team. Some doctors (and medical students) also feel that you should only wear your stethoscope around your neck once you are further up in your ranks in medical school.

I have heard stories of consultants scolding medical students for placing their stethoscopes around their neck and I myself have warned first year medical students to not do this after seeing a couple of them carry out this unwritten rule in mock OSCEs that I have helped out in.

I guess the reason I feel so strongly about such a minor etiquette is because I know exactly how hard you have to work throughout your degree in order to be able to finally have the privilege to wear your stethoscope. Not only is it a sign of the amount of responsibility you have over the lives of vulnerable people but it is also a testament to the incredible sacrifice you have agreed to make as you dedicate yourself to the service of others.

All in all, I personally wouldn’t even dream of wearing my stethoscope around my neck until I receive my GMC number! I tend to carry it in my hand or in my pocket when I am on the ward; and yes I admit it can be a bit annoying but I just cannot bring myself to put it around my neck. But I guess other medical students may have different views regarding this rule and each to their own I guess.

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