Ultrasound Immersion Week: An Innovative Approach to Instructing Medical Students in Ultrasound
Ultrasound provides a portable, non-invasive, and real-time imaging modality without requiring exposure to ionizing radiation or intravenous contrast.
Advances in ultrasound continue to increase its portability, affordability and resolution, and are enabling 3D imaging and contrast studies.
Despite its increased use in many medical specialties, a survey showed only 18.6% or US medical schools reported ultrasound education as a priority and only 62.2% reported integrating ultrasound education in the curriculum.1
At our institution, medical students had minimal exposure to ultrasound in the pre-clinical curriculum.
Create an intensive ultrasound curriculum by designing a program "Ultrasound Immersion Week" aimed specifically at second year medical students.
Devise a method for measuring effectiveness of the program.
Assess the feasibility of teaching this methodology for various audiences in different institutions.
Previous studies have shown it is feasible to train medical students to a professional standard2, assessed the demand for undergraduate medical education ultrasound training3, and outlined vertically integrated ultrasound education programs.3,4 This study shows that it is possible to educate medical students about diagnostic and interventional ultrasound techniques using a focused, intensive “Ultrasound Immersion Week.”
Limitations to this educational structure include a lack of longitudinal ultrasound education to reinforce training, exposure to a limited number of organ systems, and a limited introduction to pathology.
Future goals at our institution include using virtual sonographic simulators such as SonoSim, and implementing a follow-up course during clinical years for medical students to reinforce techniques, introduce more advanced concepts and further illustrate disease pathologies.
The authors of this study believe that this method of intensive ultrasound education can be successfully implemented at other medical schools in an efficacious, cost-effective and time-efficient manner by creating focused didactic sessions, dividing medical students into small groups, using Radiology resident teachers, employing standardized patients, and practicing image-guided techniques on phantom models.