Background: Physician-performed focused ultrasonography is a rapidly growing field with numerous clinical applications. Focused ultrasound is a clinically useful tool with relevant applications across most specialties. Ultrasound technology has outpaced the education, necessitating an early introduction to the technology within the medical education system. There are many challenges to integrating ultrasound into medical education including identifying appropriately trained faculty, access to adequate resources, and appropriate integration into existing medical education curricula. As focused ultrasonography increasingly penetrates academic and community practices, access to ultrasound equipment and trained faculty is improving. However, there has remained the major challenge of determining at which level is integrating ultrasound training within the medical training paradigm most appropriate.
Methods: The Ohio State University College of Medicine has developed a novel vertical curriculum for focused ultrasonography which is concordant with the 4-year medical school curriculum. Given current evidenced-based practices, a curriculum was developed which provides medical students an exposure in focused ultrasonography. The curriculum utilizes focused ultrasonography as a teaching aid for students to gain a more thorough understanding of basic and clinical science within the medical school curriculum. The objectives of the course are to develop student understanding in indications for use, acquisition of images, interpretation of an ultrasound examination, and appropriate decision-making of ultrasound findings.
Results: Preliminary data indicate that a vertical ultrasound curriculum is a feasible and effective means of teaching focused ultrasonography. The foreseeable limitations include faculty skill level and training, initial cost of equipment, and incorporating additional information into an already saturated medical school curriculum.
Conclusions: Focused ultrasonography is an evolving concept in medicine. It has been shown to improve education and patient care. The indications for and implementation of focused ultrasound is rapidly expanding in all levels of medicine. The ideal method for teaching ultrasound has yet to be established. The vertical curriculum in ultrasound at The Ohio State University College of Medicine is a novel evidenced-based training regimen at the medical school level which integrates ultrasound training into medical education and serves as a model for future integrated ultrasound curricula.