Bedside ultrasound curriculum for medical students: report of a blended learning curriculum implementation and validation

J Clin Ultrasound. 2015 Mar;43(3):139-44. doi: 10.1002/jcu.22224. Epub 2014 Aug 14.


Background: Medical students on clinical rotations rarely receive formal bedside ultrasound (BUS) training. We designed, implemented, and evaluated a standardized BUS curriculum for medical students on their Emergency Medicine (EM) rotation. Teaching was aimed toward influencing four cognitive and psychomotor learning domains: BUS instrumentation knowledge, image interpretation, image acquisition, and procedural guidance.

Methods: Participants viewed three instructional Web-based tutorials on BUS instrumentation, the Focused Assessment for Sonography in Trauma (FAST) examination and ultrasound-guided central venous catheter (CVC) placement. Subsequently, participants attended a 3-hour hands-on training session to discuss the same content area and practice with faculty coaches. A Web-based, multiple-choice questionnaire was administered before and after the session. During the final week of the rotation, students returned for skills assessments on FAST image acquisition and CVC placement.

Results: Forty-five medical students on an EM rotation were enrolled. Sonographic knowledge overall mean score improved significantly from 66.6% (SD ±11.2) to 85.7% (SD ±10.0), corresponding to a mean difference of 19.1% (95% CI 15.5-22.7; p < 0.001). There were high pass rates for FAST (89.0%, 40/45) and CVC (96.0%, 43/45) skills assessments. There was no significant difference between medical student posttest and EM resident test scores 85.7% (SD ±10.0) and 88.1% (SD ± 7.6) (p = 0.40), respectively.

Conclusions: A formal BUS curriculum for medical students on EM rotation positively influenced performance in several key learning domains. As BUS competency is required for residency in EM and other specialties, medical schools could consider routinely incorporating BUS teaching into their clinical rotation curricula.

Keywords: bedside ultrasound; curriculum development; undergraduate medical education.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Curriculum / standards
  • Curriculum / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ultrasonics / education*