Internal medicine residents' point-of-care ultrasound skills and need assessment and the role of medical school training

Adv Med Educ Pract. 2019 May 31;10:379-386. doi: 10.2147/AMEP.S198536. eCollection 2019.


Introduction: Point-of-care-ultrasound (POCUS) as a useful bedside tool is growing. Few studies have examined residents' attitude towards POCUS or compared POCUS image interpretation skills between residents with and without POCUS training in medical school. Material and Methods: We distributed an anonymous survey and image interpretation test to assess residents' attitude towards POCUS, confidence, and skills in interpreting POCUS images and videos. Using independent samples t-tests, we compared mean confidence levels and test scores between residents with and without prior POCUS training. Results: Fifty-two residents responded to survey (response rate 68%) and 59 took the image interpretation test (77%). Most residents (90%) reported being interested in POCUS. Residents with prior POCUS training (n=13) were either PGY-1 (9) or PGY-2 (4). No PGY-3 resident had prior training. Most residents (83%) thought POCUS could be extremely useful in the inpatient setting compared to 29% for outpatient setting. PGY-1 residents with prior training had a higher mean confidence level than PGY-1 residents without prior training, but the difference was not statistically significant (3.26 vs 2.64; p=0.08). PGY-1 with prior training had a mean confidence level that was close to that of PGY-3 residents. PGY-1 residents with prior training scored significantly higher than PGY-1 residents without prior training in image interpretation test (10.25 vs 7; p=0.01). Residents felt most confident in interpreting inferior vena cava images (mean 3.7; max. 5), which also had the highest score in image interpretation test (correct response rate of 88%). Conclusion: Our residents seem very interested in POCUS. PGY-1 residents with prior POCUS training in medical school seem to have higher confidence in their POCUS skills than PGY-1 residents without prior training and outperformed them in image interpretation test. The study is very instructive in building our future POCUS curriculum for residents.

Keywords: Point-of-care-ultrasound; bedside ultrasound; graduate medical education; internal medicine residents.