JJC Nursing Enhances Student Access With Amplified Stethoscopes

Through newly acquired digitally amplified stethoscopes, the Joliet Junior College Nursing program is enhancing learning outcomes for hard of hearing students. The innovative technology can improve patient screening while helping build new skills for future nurses while meeting their diverse needs.

Students like Ginger Senisais, whose hearing is diminished by roughly 50% in both ears, had previously needed a very quiet environment to assess patients using a stethoscope. With the digitally amplified version, the sounds project easily and clearly. 
Ginger Senisais“My first reaction to using it was ‘wow, I can actually clearly hear the sounds I’m trying to listen too!’ I was shocked,” said Senisais, 43. “This technology has given me the ability to identify normal and abnormal sounds. Overall this stethoscope will help anyone in the healthcare field become better and do better assessments.”

While amplified stethoscopes have been available for decades, digitally amplified stethoscopes are an emerging technology that continues to evolve, according to Michael Taylor, JJC nursing professor. 

“Now, through integrated platforms, the technology even allows for sound waveforms to be recorded and saved to individual patient profiles and shared in real-time with the patient’s medical provider,” he said. 

Senisais was able to obtain the advanced technology and let Taylor try it. He immediately realized its value and contacted the supplier, securing two donations. Taylor then submitted a funding proposal through his department and the JJC Foundation to purchase even more. It led to another 39 digitally amplified stethoscopes, benefitting learning outcomes for all JJC nursing students. 

“Well-developed assessment skills are pivotal to the emerging nurse, and this technology allows students to more fully immerse themselves in the assessment process, honing their skills for future practice,” said Taylor.

"The Foundation is proud to support state-of-the-art equipment for our students in health-related fields, including students who need special equipment such as these digitally amplified stethoscopes," said Kristi Mulvey, executive director of JJC Institutional Advancement and the JJC Foundation. 

Taylor and Senisais call the technology a game-changer for their industry, one that not only supports new learning opportunities but can help detect health issues in patients earlier. Upon graduating this fall, Senisais intends to work at an outpatient center or in labor and delivery, where she’ll use a digitally amplified stethoscope with the confidence that she’s hearing clearly and can treat properly. 

“Every person, regardless of their disability, will be able to perform accurate assessments on their patients and potentially identify abnormalities that could have been missed,” said Senisais.