A new way to listen

Karyn Grimm Herndon, M.D. ’86, remembers sitting exactly where her son Carl Herndon sits. As a member of the UF College of Medicine’s class of 2016, Carl experiences the same anxiety and excitement his mother felt 30 years ago at the beginning of her journey to becoming a physician.

Members of the UF College of Medicine’s class of 2016 became the first to receive new electronic stethoscopes, made possible by an anonymous donor. (From left to right) First-year medical students Judy Ashouri, Luther St. James, Terrell Martin, Samyr Elbadri and Samantha Baer pose with their new stethoscopes around their necks. Photo by Maria Belen Farias

“It’s indescribable and I’m so proud of him,” said Herndon, an assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “He always called me a Gator doc and now we can share that experience.”

But some parts of Carl Herndon’s orientation activities differed from his mother’s.

On Aug. 3, the UF College of Medicine became the first medical school in the world to present its students with new electronic stethoscopes from 3G Littman, made possible by an anonymous donor.

“These are top-of-the-line stethoscopes,” said Maureen Novak, M.D., associate dean for medical education and vice chair of education in the department of pediatrics.

Each stethoscope came with a special message in honor of the donor’s uncle, Ludwig Salamon, who was forced to leave his native Hungary for Italy to study medicine. Salamon, whose name is engraved on each stethoscope, died in 1920 after contracting tuberculosis from a patient with whom he played chess.

“The gift of these stethoscopes is a tribute to the great medical advances of the past century that has allowed all of us to live in a time where tuberculosis and many other diseases are no longer death sentences,” the message read. “In addition, these should serve to empower each one of you to speak out against injustice and inequality.”

The electronic stethoscopes feature ambient noise reduction technology, which enables students to hear amplified sounds from the heart and lungs. Also, students can listen and record what they hear, as well as their own commentary, and transfer the sounds via Bluetooth to a computer for further study.

First-year medical student Kelley Naus tests out her new electronic stethoscope on classmate Saharsh Patel. The new stethoscopes feature high-tech capabilities such as ambient noise reduction and Bluetooth. Photo by Maria Belen Farias

“I never expected to be a part of the first group of people to use this high-tech stethoscope,” said Jaimee Castillo, a first-year medical student who earned her undergraduate degree from UF, as she and her classmates enthusiastically tested out their brand new stethoscopes, listening to each other’s heartbeats. “It’s an honor to be able to train with such an innovative equipment.”

Herndon is excited for her son who’s worked hard to get into UF, which was his first choice. His class will be the first class to fully experience the college’s new curriculum changes, which include more small-group and active learning, and early exposure to patients and clinical training.

“It’s remarkable to see such a cutting-edge technology being incorporated into medical education at UF,” she said. “I know he will have a great experience here.”