Barriers to ultrasound training in critical care medicine fellowships: a survey of program directors

Crit Care Med. 2010 Oct;38(10):1978-83. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0b013e3181eeda53.


Objective: Ultrasonography is an effective tool for making quick diagnoses and guiding therapeutic procedures. National organizations have advocated increasing the use of critical care ultrasonography. The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence of teaching of critical care ultrasonography in fellowship programs. In addition, we hoped to identify barriers to establishment of ultrasound training programs.

Design: All pulmonary/critical care and critical care medicine (CCM) program directors in the United States were invited to participate in an online survey. We asked respondents for demographic information about their programs and perceived barriers to training, as well as current training opportunities for their fellows in five aspects of critical care ultrasonography. A five-point Likert scale was used for survey answers.

Setting: Web-based survey.

Subjects: Pulmonary/critical care and CCM program directors in the United States.

Interventions: Web-based survey.

Measurements and main results: Ninety (66%) of 136 program directors responded. Ultrasonography training was offered by fellowship programs in the following areas: vascular access (98%), lung and pleural (74%), cardiac (55%), vascular diagnostic (33%), and abdominal (37%). Ninety-two percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that ultrasound training is useful, and 80% were interested in getting their fellows trained. Forty-one percent indicated that they lacked sufficient faculty trained in ultrasound use. Eighty-four percent agreed or strongly agreed that fellow turnover was an impediment to training. Forty-eight percent believed that cardiac echocardiography required a long training time.

Conclusions: Although ultrasound training in vascular access was nearly universal, training in other aspects of ultrasound was less prevalent. We identified several barriers, including fellow turnover, insufficient faculty training, and perceived length of time required for echocardiography training.

MeSH terms

  • Critical Care* / organization & administration
  • Data Collection
  • Education, Medical, Continuing* / organization & administration
  • Faculty, Medical
  • Fellowships and Scholarships* / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Personnel Turnover
  • Ultrasonography*
  • United States