Defining Competencies for Ultrasound-Guided Bedside Procedures: Consensus Opinions From Canadian Physicians

J Ultrasound Med. 2016 Jan;35(1):129-41. doi: 10.7863/ultra.15.01063. Epub 2015 Dec 11.


Objectives: This study sought to define the competencies in ultrasound knowledge and skills that are essential for medical trainees to master to perform ultrasound-guided central venous catheterization, thoracentesis, and paracentesis.

Methods: Experts in the 3 procedures were identified by a snowball technique through 3 Canadian tertiary academic health centers. Experts completed 2 rounds of surveys, including an 88-item central venous catheterization survey, a 96-item thoracentesis survey, and an 89-item paracentesis survey. For each item, experts were asked to determine whether the knowledge/skill described was essential, important, or marginal. Consensus on an item was defined as agreement by at least 80% of the experts. For items on which consensus was not reached during the first round of surveys, a second survey was created in which the experts were asked to rate the item in a binary fashion (essential/important versus marginal/unimportant).

Results: Of the 27 experts invited to complete each survey, 25 (93%) completed the central venous catheterization survey; 22 (81%) completed the thoracentesis survey; and 23 (85%) completed the paracentesis survey. The experts represented 8 specialties from 8 cities within Canada. A total of 22, 32, and 28 items were determined to be essential competencies for central venous catheterization, thoracentesis, and paracentesis, respectively, whereas 47, 38, and 42 competencies were determined to be important, and 8, 13, and 10 were determined to be marginal. The ability to perform real-time direct ultrasound guidance was considered essential only for the performance of central venous catheterization insertion.

Conclusions: Our study presents expert consensus-derived ultrasound competencies that should be considered during the design and implementation of procedural skills training for learners.

Keywords: competencies; point-of-care ultrasound; procedures; ultrasound; ultrasound education.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Canada
  • Catheterization, Central Venous / statistics & numerical data*
  • Clinical Competence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Needs Assessment
  • Paracentesis / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data
  • Point-of-Care Testing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Thoracentesis / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional / statistics & numerical data*