Digital Stethoscope Helps Nurse Practitioner Fine-Tune Ability to Listen to Heart Murmurs


Inspired by caring for her grandpa, Bailey Estes went into nursing. Now as a nurse practitioner, she uses the 3M™ Littmann® CORE Digital Stethoscope to discern heart murmurs and other heart sounds.

Digital Stethoscope Helps Nurse Practitioner Fine-Tune Ability to Listen to Heart Murmurs
An NP’s steady, upward nursing career trajectory

Like the gradual, steady upward trajectory of a mountain climber, Bailey Estes climbed the ladder of her nursing career. Estes went from being a nursing assistant to a licensed practice nurse, then onto a registered nurse, to most recently, becoming a nurse practitioner. But it was the heartfelt care for her late grandfather that served as her initial inspiration.

Psychology was Estes’s original college focus. “About 2 years into college, my grandpa became very sick. He had many cardiovascular problems and was in the hospital near where I live, so I helped my grandma and mom with him,” she explained.

Although these 2 women encouraged Estes to become a nurse, she was hesitant. “I didn’t mind helping care for Grandpa, but I wasn’t sure about touching other people,” she said. But that reluctance soon faded, and her cardiac nursing career was off and running.

Estes worked in various cardiology roles throughout her nursing career while pursuing higher education. Her experience includes telemetry and the cardiac intensive care unit. She’s been a cardiac catheterization lab scrub nurse and a clinical research coordinator.

Now in her early 30s, Estes graduated about a year ago with her Master of Science as an adult gerontology nurse practitioner. Her certifications include Certified Perioperative Nurse (CNOR) and Registered Cardiovascular Nurse Invasive Specialist (RCIS).

She is also a prolific writer with 14 publications in academic journals and for the American College of Cardiology. Among her recent works, Estes published the results of a national survey on the impact of COVID-19 on cardiac catheterization lab nurses and technologists.

Digital stethoscope enhances auscultation of heart murmurs and other heart sounds

Even with her vast clinical cardiac experience, Estes felt challenged to hear and distinguish certain heart sounds with nursing stethoscopes. Being able to listen to heart murmurs was particularly difficult, especially against the backdrop of competing noises.

“Patients are talking in the background,” she explained. “Sometimes their lung sounds will overpower their heart sounds. This can make it difficult to determine if something is going on heart-wise — which is really important for me to discern,” she said.

While attending a 2022 American College of Cardiology scientific session, Estes visited Eko Health’s booth. She tried the 3M™ Littmann® CORE Digital Stethoscope and purchased it on the spot after hearing the auditory improvement. “I knew it was going to make me feel more comfortable in assessing my patients,” she said. “It’s kind of a night-and-day difference.”

In her current role, differentiating vital body sounds is partly how she assesses whether patients are improving or declining. Estes pairs the Littmann® CORE with the Eko App to record the patient’s body sounds for her physician counterpart who listens remotely. “It makes it so much more convenient than him having to stop and come to physically assess the patient,” Estes explained.

She views this technology as being an investment in her career. “We don’t go through that many stethoscopes in our careers. A purchase that’s going to get you through at least 5 to 10 years is a good thing for me,” she observed.

Celebrating nursing and continued career advancement

Estes doesn’t plan to return to school ― at least not right away. “I tell myself I’ll never go back to school again. But as I always say, ‘never say never,’” she noted. “Right now, I’m focusing on becoming more comfortable in my new role as a nurse practitioner.”

Advanced learning is still a theme for her though. “You don’t know what you don’t know. Every day presents new learning [opportunities] because patients present differently all the time,” she said.

As the chair of the communications committee for the American College of Cardiology, Estes helps with their social media and cardiovascular education promotion.

She heralds nursing as a great career opportunity, citing its many specialties and roles. “There are so many different things you can do until you find that one aspect of nursing that you really love,” she observed. “Look for your niche and you’ll find your specialty.” 

Estes’ grandfather didn’t live to see her become an advanced practice nurse, but she’s happy that he saw her graduate from nursing school. The 2 women who nudged her and championed her nursing career — her grandmother and mother — are both still living. “I wouldn’t have done it had it not been for them — and for my grandpa,” she said. 

Find out why the 3M™ Littmann® CORE Digital Stethoscope is such a powerful tool to listen to heart murmurs and other body sounds accurately. 

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