Teaching Ultrasound at the Point of Care in Times of Social Distancing

ATS Sch. 2021 Sep 8;2(3):341-352. doi: 10.34197/ats-scholar.2021-0023PS. eCollection 2021 Sep.


Point-of-care ultrasound has become an integral aspect of critical care training. The Bedside Assessment by Sonography In Critical Care Medicine Curriculum was established at the University of Toronto to train critical care trainees in basic echocardiography and general critical care ultrasound. During the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, our program needed to adapt quickly to ensure staff safety and adherence to infection-control protocols. In this article, we share our experience and reflect on the challenges and benefits of shifting from a primarily in-person teaching model to a hybrid model of remote and in-person teaching. Curricular changes were threefold: the transition to entirely web-based interactive didactic teaching and online imaging interpretation modules, the recruitment of sonographers at multiple academic sites as instructors to facilitate in-person practices with lower instructor to trainee ratio, and the use of a mobile application for informal group case-based discussions. Challenges included lost opportunities for scanning healthy volunteers, variability in attendance at online lectures, and a lower number of study submissions for review. However, curricular changes enabled maintenance of directly observed practice, high levels of engagement with recorded content, and an expansion of our reach to a global audience. We believe that future curricula should combine high-quality online curriculum and resources with the ongoing in-person delivery of key elements of curriculum to allow for direct observation and feedback as well as the maintenance of self-directed point-of-care ultrasound portfolios.

Keywords: critical care; curriculum design; medical education; ultrasound; virtual learning.