UC Davis Veterinary Students Welcomed with Eko

It’s considered an important rite of passage for many medical students entering their doctorate programs: the white coat ceremony. And this year, 148 University of California, Davis Veterinary Medicine students were presented with the Eko CORE Digital Stethoscope along with the long white coat. The moment was so powerful that 2021 Class President Nicole Chodora, who also earned her bachelor’s degree in Animal Science at UC Davis, admits she teared up.

“It’s the coolest thing,” she said. “Your whole family is watching. You walk across a stage, like a commencement ceremony, and they put that symbol of the profession on you. It’s a symbol of respect and medical knowledge and it’s basically your faculty welcoming you as a colleague to veterinary medicine. And getting Eko at the ceremony was such a great gift.”

That gift was made possible by two donors, and two Associate Deans. Dr. Karl Jandrey, the current Associate Dean of Student Programs, says his predecessor had the idea to give out stethoscopes as part of the white coat ceremony. When Dr. Jandrey stepped into the position, he worked hard to make sure that goal became a reality.

“I heard about Eko from one of our students, actually,” Dr. Jandrey said. “Our students are early adopters of new technology. Then when I tried one out, I thought this is a pretty great tool, not just for the clinic, but for me as an educator.”

Dr. Jandrey played around with Eko CORE for an hour, testing it out on himself, and cats and dogs in the clinic, before coming to the conclusion that the match was, in his words, “perfect.”

“It’s terrific, cutting-edge technology, and for all the reasons I can use it as an educator, the students can use it as professionals. We can share information with our colleagues and let our clients be part of their medical experience. When I found out its potential, I had a story to take to our donors and philanthropists.”

That story was compelling enough for two donors to step up and foot the bill for 150 COREs for the incoming class of UC Davis’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

“Everyone’s been bringing their stethoscope everywhere,” said Chodora, who is finding CORE unlike any other stethoscope she’s used.

“It’s so much easier to hear a heartbeat, an irregular heartbeat, lung and gut sounds, all of those things. And it lets us hear abnormalities and record them with the really cool Bluetooth sharing feature. We can go to our classmates or our professors and show them what we heard. It’s incredibly helpful.”

Most of Chodora’s veterinary experience before the program has been with small animals, whose internal sounds are much easier to pick up with a stethoscope. So when she was asked to find the heartbeat on a horse during her first week of grad school, she found herself struggling. To make matters worse, the horse was on the chubby side. But a faculty member helped her target the right area, and CORE did the rest.

“I was really straining to hear through layers of fat and muscle and those big ribs, but as soon as I turned on that digital amplification, I could hear clearly,” Chodara said.

Eko CORE allows clinicians to switch between analog and digital modes with the push of a button. And in digital mode, not only is background noise filtered out, but the audio can be amplified up to forty times its original level. Features like these had first-years at UC Davis’ Vet program acting like kids in a candy store after the white coat ceremony.

“A lot of us were texting each other, saying ‘hey have you played with the new tool yet?’ Right away, we started recording things and sharing things. You can actually make patient records on your phone with recordings from your stethoscope. It’s just unheard of. The digital aspect is stunning,” said Chodora.

Dr. Jandrey was also impressed with the extras. “The thing that’s nice about Eko, besides being very comfortable in your ears, is the ability to record, to enhance the sound, to see the sound with a phonocardiogram. Those things are pretty powerful. I haven’t really seen a phonocardiogram since I was in veterinary school.”

While some of Chodora’s classmates homed in on the manual and the online tutorial before opening the box, she said others dove right in.

“There’s just so much that it can do that might not be immediately clear when you first pick it up. But the guides are super clear and it was really easy to hook up to our phones and get the Bluetooth working,” she said.

It’s not a leap to say Chodara will be recommending Eko to incoming veterinary students next year. But with any luck, she won’t have to. Dr. Jandrey hopes to convince more donors to come forward in the future, to provide students with what he sees as a remarkable tool that stands above the rest.