Many physicians cling to Asclepios’s staff as the quintessential insignia of our craft, no doubt debating endlessly whether it should have one or two ascending snakes. Some doctors cherish instead the symbolism of the white coats they don daily, which impart a hygienic air. Still others tightly clutch their beaten black-leather doctor’s bags, once indispensable accessories for bygone house calls.

But with all due respect to these and a host of other treasured tokens, I contend that the stethoscope best symbolizes the practice of medicine. Whether absentmindedly worn around the neck like an amulet or coiled gunslinger-style in the pocket.

An article from the NEJM NEJM — The Stethoscope and the Art of Listening

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