Point of Care Ultrasound in Family Medicine Residency Programs: A CERA Study

Fam Med. 2015 Oct;47(9):706-11.


Background and objectives: Point-of-care (POC) ultrasound is increasingly used by clinicians across multiple medical specialties. Current perceptions and prevalence of POC ultrasound practice and training in family medicine residency programs has not been described.

Methods: Questions were included in the 2014 Council of Academic Family Medicine Educational Research Alliance (CERA) survey of family medicine residency directors. The survey included questions regarding current use and current curricula regarding POC ultrasound. It also asked rank order questions of perceived benefits and perceived barriers to expanding such training.

Results: Fifty percent (n=224) of residency program directors completed the 2014 CERA survey. Few programs (2.2%) reported an established ultrasound curriculum. However, 29% indicated they have started a program within the past year, and 11.2% reported starting the process of establishing such training. Ultrasound assistance for procedural guidance was the most commonly reported (44%) use out of seven POC examples. The three leading perceived benefits of POC ultrasound were: making a more rapid diagnosis, the potential to save health care costs, and the potential to improve patient outcomes. The three leading barriers to expanding training were a lack of appropriately trained faculty, limited access to ultrasound equipment, and a lack of comfort in interpreting images without radiologist review.

Conclusions: A small, but rapidly growing, number of family medicine residencies currently use POC ultrasound. Further research is needed to explore how POC ultrasound can improve patient outcomes in the ambulatory setting and to develop appropriate training methods for this technology.

MeSH terms

  • Cost Savings
  • Family Practice / education
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / organization & administration*
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • Time Factors
  • Ultrasonography*