Analysis of trainees' memory after classroom presentations of didactical ultrasound courses

Crit Ultrasound J. 2014 Jul 12;6(1):10. doi: 10.1186/2036-7902-6-10. eCollection 2014.


Background: Emergency ultrasound is gaining importance in medical education. Widespread teaching methods are frontal presentations and hands-on training. The primary goal of our study was to evaluate the impact of frontal presentations (PS) by analysis of retained knowledge rate (RKR) and learning load (LL).

Methods: Our study was conducted during four introductory courses in emergency ultrasound covering Extended Focused Assessment with Sonography for Trauma (E-FAST) and Focused Echocardiography Evaluation in Life Support (FEEL). Standardized PS (length of 10 to 50 min) were presented by experienced trainers, who were asked to provide keywords, key messages, and images and assign a score to each. Group 1 consisted of 11 medical students with no prior ultrasound experience, and group 2 consisted of 80 physicians. Each group was audience to seven to eight standard PS and requested to answer a free text questionnaire after 0 h, 2.5 h, 24 h, and 14 days.

Results: In group 1, 168/176 questionnaires were analyzed, and 161/202 were analyzed in group 2. RKR in group 1 was 32.5%, 15%, 16%, and 12% at 0 h, 2.5 h, 24 h, and 2 weeks. The physicians' RKR were 23%, 20.5%, and 22.4% after 0, 2.5, and 24 h of a respective PS. The LL was 1.6/min for students and 1.2/min for physicians. There was no difference in RKR when comparing PS with higher and lower LL for both groups; shorter or case-based PS were associated with a higher RKR (p < 0.01).

Conclusions: Our study provides evidence that only a limited amount of information can be processed at a time. Only 12% of knowledge is retained after 2 weeks. Presentations of short duration can increase the retained knowledge rate. Therefore, frontal presentations and classroom-based ultrasound training and teaching should be adapted.