Point-of-Care Ultrasound in Family Medicine Residencies 5-Year Update: A CERA Study

Fam Med. 2020 Jun;52(7):505-511. doi: 10.22454/FamMed.2020.223648.


Background and objectives: In 2014, family medicine residency programs began to integrate point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) into training, although very few had an established POCUS curriculum. This study aimed to evaluate the resources, barriers, and scope of POCUS training in family medicine residencies 5 years after its inception.

Methods: Questions regarding current training and use of POCUS were included in the 2019 Council of Academic Family Medicine Educational Research Alliance (CERA) survey of family medicine residency program directors, and results compared to similar questions on the 2014 CERA survey.

Results: POCUS is becoming a core component of family medicine training programs, with 53% of program directors reporting establishing or an established core curriculum. Only 11% of program directors have no current plans to add POCUS training to their program, compared to 41% in 2014. Despite this increase in training, the reported clinical use of POCUS remains uncommon. Only 27% of programs use six of the eight surveyed POCUS modalities more than once per year. The top three barriers to including POCUS in residency training in 2019 have not changed since 2014, and are (1) a lack of trained faculty, (2) limited access to equipment, and (3) discomfort with interpreting images without radiologist review.

Conclusions: Training in POCUS has increased in family medicine residencies over the last 5 years, although practical use of this technology in the clinical setting may be lagging behind. Further research should explore how POCUS can improve outcomes and reduce costs in the primary care setting to better inform training for this technology.

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum
  • Family Practice / education
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Point-of-Care Systems
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Ultrasonography