Some experienced examiners do not advise candidates to wear their stethoscope around their neck. Whilst you may see people do this a lot on the wards or on TV medical dramas, some examiners may feel it is unprofessional. When I was studying for my MRCP PACES exam, my registrars all advised me to avoid wearing my stethoscope around my neck.
What should you do with it instead then?
You could put it down on a table or desk nearby, although you do then risk walking off to the next station without your stethoscope (and on the course I often find candidates re-tracing their steps trying to find where they left their stethoscopes).
If you have decent sized pockets, you could try this option. Although if you have small pockets or a heavy, expensive stethoscope then you might find that difficult.
My suggestion would be to hold it in your hands with your arms straight, so that your hands and stethoscope are below your waist. Not only does this mean that you do not lose your stethoscope, but it also stops you from fidgeting with your fingers (they will be busy holding the stethoscope), or doing distracting things with your hands (I sometimes make emphatic hand gestures when I am speaking, which can be distracting for other people).
An alternative is to hold your stethoscope in your hands behind you. I have seen people do this but it also seems to make some people want to sway back and forth so make sure you are not doing that!
Why not practice holding your stethoscope and see what feels best for you?
By Andrew Eichholz
Dr Andrew Eichholz is a Consultant Clinical Oncologist at Oxford University Hospitals. He trained at St. Bartholomew’s and the Royal London Hospitals and he has been teaching on the Ealing PACES course since 2005.