1. The beat goes on: Giving a nurse’s best friend a new life
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  • The beat goes on: Giving a nurse’s best friend a new life

    By Evelyn Padilla, 3M Storyteller

    “I’ve listened to a baby’s first heartbeat and a patient’s last heartbeat with this stethoscope.” - Anna Williamson, Registered Nurse

    • Like a paint brush to an artist or a wrench to a mechanic, a stethoscope for a medical professional brings their occupation to life.

      “It’s a part of me; it’s not just my tool,” says Anna Williamson, about her Ceil Blue 3M Littmann Stethoscope.

    • Anna Williamson, Registered Nurse

      As a nurse, Anna and her stethoscope have been through a lot together. They’ve listened to lungs and heartbeats, listened in emergency situations and even lent an ear to big brothers and sisters to help them get acquainted with a new baby.

      For the first few years of her children’s lives, Anna was a stay-at-home mom. As her children got older, she and her husband flipped roles. “I started a career a little bit later in life, and I love what I do,” she says. Not just the life-saving part of the job, but also being able to teach people about their bodies.

      “People who have a murmur who have never heard it before – I love being able to say ‘here listen to it,’” Anna shares. “Those are the best times I get to use my stethoscope. I’ve listened to a baby’s first heartbeat and a patient’s last heartbeat with this stethoscope.”

    • Tony Wald, service department supervisor of the 3M Health Care Service Center

      Tony Wald understands just how meaningful a stethoscope can be. As the service department supervisor of the 3M Health Care Service Center, he’s seen it all. “We’ve received stethoscopes that have been taped together, some that have been chewed up by the family pet or been in house fires,” says Tony.

      He and his team offer a repair service to help medical professionals mend their broken friends in a matter of days. “It’s a very personal product. When customers send it in, they don’t want to be without it even for a day.”

      Experts at the 3M Health Care Service Center in Oakdale, Minnesota, offer repair services for their 3M Littmann mechanical stethoscopes, as they have for the past 40 years. “We service around 12,000 stethoscopes a year, and we get about 50-75 repairs a day,” Tony says.

    • Anna’s two boys listening to the thump-thump of each of their heartbeats.
      Anna’s two boys listening to the thump-thump of each of their heartbeats.

      Anna learned about this service through a friend after she began noticing a change in her trusty implement. “I found that I couldn’t hear things that were already difficult to hear, like faint lung sounds, the way I could before,” she says. Anna took it in for a checkup and as it turns out, it was just a matter of repairing its tubing.

    Two stethoscopes on a table
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    See how experts transformed Anna’s stethoscope. 

    Learn more

    Explore free training courses, tips on using your stethoscope, the history of stethoscopes and more.