The Ventriloscope: 'am I hearing things?'

Med Teach. 2009 Mar;31(3):e97-101. doi: 10.1080/01421590802516798.


Background: Knowledge of the benefits of incorporating medical simulation into healthcare curricula is rapidly increasing. Though impeded by the high cost of complicated technology, medical simulation devices offer the ability to provide safe and controlled training environments, exposure to rare clinical scenarios, as well as unlimited training opportunities.

Methods: This report describes a novel, inexpensive method of broadcasting normal and abnormal auscultatory findings to a relatively normal appearing stethoscope for use in training of healthcare professionals.

Results: Using wireless transmitter broadcasting to a stethoscope fitted with a receiver apparatus, the student is able to perform a typical medical exam with auscultation of an unlimited variety of clinical sounds from anatomically appropriate sources while being observed from another room.

Conclusions: Implications of this low-cost device include limitless training possibilities worldwide and across disciplines. The simplicity and portability of this device increases potential for use in rapid training of recognition of clinical signs associated with chemical/biological warfare agents, mass casualty incidents and field military applications. This is the first device to simulate clinically relevant sounds in a realistic manner on standardized patients and mannequins. The benefits of such simulation in medical education ultimately serve to increase trainee confidence and consequently, improve patient care and safety.

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate*
  • Humans
  • Stethoscopes*
  • Teaching / methods*