Background and objectives: A hand-carried ultrasound training session was organized as an initial step in developing a long-term ultrasound education program for family medicine residents and faculty. Comparative effectiveness studies examining the potential benefits, risks, and any possible cost savings associated with this technology will be predicated on having a sufficient number of primary care physicians trained and able to use hand-carried ultrasounds as part of routine care. The proposed training described here is a first step toward this broader conversation and empirical study of hand-carried ultrasound use in family medicine.
Methods: An 8-hour training consisting of didactic lectures, case review, and hands-on experience imaging standardized patients with ultrasound machines and an ultrasound simulator. The objective of the course was to introduce focused ultrasound acquisition and interpretation of the gall bladder, kidney, heart, and abdominal aorta to family medicine physicians. Participating physicians were evaluated for changes in self-perceived comfort and proficiency with the hand-carried ultrasound before and after the training.
Results: Statistically significant changes for most comfort and proficiency items were demonstrated. Importantly, the only item that did not show significant change dealt with basing clinical decisions on information obtained from the device.
Conclusion: The subjective improvement suggests this approach is one potentially useful hand-carried ultrasound training framework. Future work should attempt to further develop curricula and address issues such as longitudinal training assessments and certification and the development of competency in the necessary skill sets.