By Corbin Smith
This summer associate teaching professor Dr. Craig Nuttall went public, along with BYU professor of information technology and cybersecurity Chia-Chi Teng, with their revolutionary invention: a 3D-printed digital and Bluetooth stethoscope and a phone application to go with it. To make it even better, while it may not have been its original purpose, this innovative new product has proven effective to assist medical professionals in their efforts to combat COVID-19! Now doctors and nurses can get necessary readings on their patients while maintaining a safe distance from them. For medical professionals across the industry, this was a game changer!
With that in mind, now let’s fast forward a few weeks to the home of third semester student Jadie Christenson. Christenson had just finished her second semester in the nursing program and was spending the summer quarantined with her family in Utah. While she had been successful in those semesters, she had begun to notice an obstacle that she seemed to run into during simulations and clinicals: she needed to take out her hearing aids whenever she needed to use a stethoscope. It was doable, but a major hassle as well. “I had done tons and tons of research online trying to find something that would work with hearing aids,” Christenson explains, “I’ve been absolutely shocked how there is really not any resources out there.”
You can imagine the hope Christenson felt when her dad sent her a link to the story written by BYU Communications about Nuttall, Teng and the stethoscope. She shares her reaction, “I thought, ‘I need to see how it works. This could be perfect for someone with hearing aids.’”
She was right.
The way the stethoscope was originally created was that a small plug-in at the end of the stethoscope would create a Bluetooth signal that would connect to your mobile device and then to wireless earphones, such as AirPods. For Christenson, it was as simple as replacing the AirPods, for example, with the new and special hearing aids she had recently bought especially for nursing school. The stethoscope would then flawlessly send the audio coming from the stethoscope right to Christenson’s ears.
Christenson knows there could be many other healthcare workers or students could potentially be blessed because of her experience. “The best part is that they can be really accessible and make a big difference for a lot of people,” she reflects.
This big break has changed the way that Christenson will approach the rest of her nursing studies and beyond. Her previous challenges, however, were never going to stop her from becoming the best nurse she could be. “I don’t let hearing aids have a very big impact on what I can or can’t do. Obviously, I have to adapt, but everyone has to adapt to anything they do,” she says. “I wasn’t going to stop myself from applying to the nursing program because I wasn’t sure what the solution would be. I knew I was going to figure something out, whether it was now or 10 years down the road. I just knew I was going to do it.”
Although the stethoscope has yet to be perfected, Christenson knows that the solution she had been hoping for was finally here. Yes, the companion phone app has small bugs and sure, the stethoscope could be fine-tuned, but that isn’t going to slow Christenson down at all. She is currently studying to be a nurse anesthetist and with her heart and ears, she is well on her way towards success!