Ultrasonography in Undergraduate Medical Education: A Systematic Review

J Ultrasound Med. 2018 Nov;37(11):2667-2679. doi: 10.1002/jum.14628. Epub 2018 Apr 30.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to conduct a systematic review of the evidence of educational outcomes associated with teaching ultrasonography (US) to medical students.

Methods: A review of databases through 2016 was conducted for research studies that reported data on teaching US to medical students. Each title and abstract were reviewed by teams of 2 independent abstractors to determine whether the article would be ordered for full-text review and subsequently by 2 independent authors for inclusion. Data were abstracted with a form developed a priori by the authors.

Results: Ninety-five relevant unique articles were included (of 6936 identified in the databases). Survey data showed that students enjoyed the US courses and desired more US training. Of the studies that assessed US-related knowledge and skill, most of the results were either positive (16 of 25 for knowledge and 24 of 58 for skill) or lacked a control (8 of 25 for knowledge and 27 of 58 for skill). The limited evidence (14 of 95 studies) of the effect of US training on non-US knowledge and skill (eg, anatomy knowledge or physical examination skill) was mixed.

Conclusions: There is ample evidence that students can learn US knowledge and skills and that they enjoy and want US training in medical school. The evidence for the effect of US on external outcomes is limited, and there is insufficient evidence to recommend it for this purpose at this time.

Keywords: education; medical education; medical students; point of care ultrasonography; ultrasonography; ultrasound; undergraduate medical education.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Humans
  • Ultrasonics / education*
  • Ultrasonography