Outcomes of an Advanced Ultrasound Elective: Preparing Medical Students for Residency and Practice

J Ultrasound Med. 2016 May;35(5):975-82. doi: 10.7863/ultra.15.06060. Epub 2016 Apr 12.


Objectives: Many medical specialties have adopted the use of ultrasound, creating demands for higher-quality ultrasound training at all levels of medical education. Little is known about the long-term benefit of integrating ultrasound training during undergraduate medical education. This study evaluated the effect of a longitudinal fourth-year undergraduate medical education elective in ultrasound and its impact on the future use of ultrasound in clinical practice.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey of medical graduates from The Ohio State University College of Medicine (2006-2011) was done, comparing those who participated and those who did not participate in a rigorous ultrasound program for fourth-year medical students. A 38-item questionnaire queried graduates concerning ultrasound education in residency, their proficiency, and their current use of ultrasound in clinical practice.

Results: Surveys were completed by 116 respondents, for a return rate of 40.8% (116 of 284). The participants of the undergraduate medical education ultrasound elective (n = 61) reported more hours of ultrasound training after graduation (hands-on training, bedside scanning, and number of scans performed; P < .001), higher ultrasound proficiency (proficiency in using ultrasound for clinical decision making, use in emergency settings, and use of novel techniques; P< .001), and higher rates of ultrasound use in clinical practice (P < .001).

Conclusions: The longitudinal undergraduate medical education ultrasound elective produced physicians who were more likely to seek additional training in residency, evaluate themselves as more proficient, and use ultrasound in their clinical practice. Early training in bedside ultrasound during undergraduate medical education yields physicians who are better prepared for integration of ultrasound into clinical practice.

Keywords: graduate medical education; sonography; ultrasound education; undergraduate medical education.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Curriculum / statistics & numerical data*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Ohio
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Ultrasonics / education*