The value of education: Radiology-led program about ultrasound skills well received

A pilot radiology-led program teaching ultrasound skills to preclinical medical students was well liked and valued by students, according to a study published in the July issue of Academic Radiology.

Although many medical students encounter bedside ultrasound as soon as they begin their clinical rotations, most medical schools do not include an ultrasound program in their formal curriculum. Lead author Emily M. Webb, MD, of the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues suggested the importance of radiologist involvement in developing ultrasound curricula and believe they should use their expertise to establish content guidelines and curricula standards.

In order to develop the radiology-led program at their institution to teach ultrasound skills to students, the researchers established a program leader, created teaching materials, synthesized a hands-on interactive program and recruited necessary instructors. The program was piloted to a class of 154 first-year medical students. Webb and colleagues assessed the introductory session through the use of pre- and post-activity Likert scale-based surveys.

Of the 154 students, 106 completed the voluntary online survey before starting the program and 145 students completed a voluntary survey after the session. As illustrated by a score of 4.64 out of 5, the students found the program educationally valuable and reported that it improved their understanding of ultrasound imaging with a score of 4.7 out of 5. The reported confidence of students in identifying abdominal organs, intra-abdominal fluid and Morison pouch was significantly higher on the postactivity survey than the presurvey. In terms of improvement, the most common request was for a longer session.

Other frequent responses included the desire for smaller group size and that the session was perfect and didn’t need to be altered. Some students reported technical errors, while others were concerned about missing a portion of the concurrent anatomy dissection.

“Through our presence in the classroom, we were able to stress that ultrasound is a complex modality and that achieving diagnostic expertise takes years of dedicated training,” wrote the authors. “We strongly recommend that radiologists play a central role in the development of any medical student ultrasound curricula at their own institutions. The students enjoyed the experience, enjoyed having an opportunity to practice hands-on learning in a small group with a radiologist, and found it educationally valuable,” they concluded.