Virtual multispecialty point-of-care ultrasound rotation for fourth-year medical students during COVID-19: Innovative teaching techniques improve ultrasound knowledge and image interpretation

AEM Educ Train. 2021 Aug 1;5(4):e10632. doi: 10.1002/aet2.10632. eCollection 2021 Aug.


Objectives: Point-of-care ultrasound (PoCUS) has been integrated into undergraduate medical education. The COVID-19 pandemic forced medical schools to evolve clinical rotations to minimize interruption through implementation of novel remote learning courses. To address the students' need for remote clinical education, we created a virtual PoCUS course for our fourth-year class. We present details of the course's development, implementation, quality improvement processes, achievements, and limitations.

Methods: A virtual PoCUS course was created for 141 fourth-year medical students. The learning objectives included ultrasound physics, performing and interpreting ultrasound applications, and incorporating PoCUS into clinical decisions and procedural guidance. Students completed a 30-question pre- and posttest focused on ultrasound and knowledge of clinical concepts. PoCUS educators from 10 different specialties delivered the course over 10 days using video-conferencing software. Students watched live scanning demonstrations and practiced ultrasound probe maneuvers using a cellular telephone to simulate ultrasound probe. Students completed daily course evaluations that were used as a continuous needs assessment to make improvements.

Results: A total of 141 students participated in the course; all received a passing grade. The mean pre- and posttest scores improved from 58% to 88% (p < 0.001) through the course duration. Daily evaluations revealed the percentage of students who rated the course's live scanning sessions and didactic components as "very well" increased from 32.7% on day 1 to 69.7% on day 10. The end-of-course evaluation revealed that 91% of students agreed they received effective teaching.

Conclusions: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our multispecialty faculty expeditiously developed a virtual PoCUS curriculum for the entire fourth-year class. This innovative course improved students' ultrasound knowledge, image interpretation, and clinical application while utilizing novel techniques to teach a hands-on skill virtually. As the demand for PoCUS instruction continues to increase, the accessibility of virtual training and blended learning will be beneficial.