Objectives: Bedside sonography is a growing field of medicine, but there is little evidence about how to teach it to medical students. A peer-mentoring system may help preclinical medical students learn bedside sonography.
Methods: In 2008 and 2009, participating first-year medical students completed an image recognition test at 0, 2, and 4 months and were randomized to an early or a late intervention group. In hands-on sessions, senior medical students taught the early intervention group how to perform a Trinity hypotensive ultrasound protocol between months 0 and 2 and then taught the late intervention group the Trinity protocol between months 2 and 4. Participants completed a practical examination at month 4. We measured the improvement in knowledge after the intervention and retention of knowledge and skills in the early intervention group at month 4. First-year medical students completed precourse and postcourse surveys about comfort and skills with sonography.
Results: Eighty-six first-year medical students enrolled; 79 completed the precourse survey; 54 completed all knowledge tests; 52 completed the practical examination; and 49 completed the postcourse survey. Of the 125 nonparticipants, 109 completed the precourse survey, and 25 completed the postcourse survey. Participants' knowledge scores increased by 30% after the intervention. The early intervention group retained 92% of the knowledge gained. Thirty-six percent of participants were able to complete the Trinity protocol in 15 minutes during the practical examination, with no significant difference between the early and late intervention groups. Participants responded positively about the experience and indicated that hands-on sessions were helpful.
Conclusions: Peer mentoring is a useful method for teaching sonography to preclinical medical students.