Evaluation of Trainee Competency with Point-of-Care Ultrasonography (POCUS): a Conceptual Framework and Review of Existing Assessments

J Gen Intern Med. 2019 Jun;34(6):1025-1031. doi: 10.1007/s11606-019-04945-4.


Point-of-care ultrasonography (POCUS) has the potential to transform healthcare delivery through its diagnostic expediency. Trainee competency with POCUS is now mandated for emergency medicine through the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), and its use is expanding into other medical specialties, including internal medicine. However, a key question remains: how does one define "competency" with this emerging technology? As our trainees become more acquainted with POCUS, it is vital to develop validated methodology for defining and measuring competency amongst inexperienced users. As a framework, the assessment of competency should include evaluations that assess the acquisition and application of POCUS-related knowledge, demonstration of technical skill (e.g., proper probe selection, positioning, and image optimization), and effective integration into routine clinical practice. These assessments can be performed across a variety of settings, including web-based applications, simulators, standardized patients, and real clinical encounters. Several validated assessments regarding POCUS competency have recently been developed, including the Rapid Assessment of Competency in Echocardiography (RACE) or the Assessment of Competency in Thoracic Sonography (ACTS). However, these assessments focus mainly on technical skill and do not expand upon other areas of this framework, which represents a growing need. In this review, we explore the different methodologies for evaluating competency with POCUS as well as discuss current progress in the field of measuring trainee knowledge and technical skill.

Keywords: bedside ultrasound; competency; medical education; patient care; point-of-care ultrasound; technique.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Point-of-Care Systems / standards*
  • Training Support / methods
  • Training Support / standards*
  • Ultrasonography / methods
  • Ultrasonography / standards*