Can ultrasound novices develop image acquisition skills after reviewing online ultrasound modules?

Elaine Situ-LaCasse, Josie Acuña, Dang Huynh, Richard Amini, Steven Irving, Kara Samsel, Asad E. Patanwala, David E. Biffar, Srikar Adhikari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Point-of-care ultrasound is becoming a ubiquitous diagnostic tool, and there has been increasing interest to teach novice practitioners. One of the challenges is the scarcity of qualified instructors, and with COVID-19, another challenge is the difficulty with social distancing between learners and educators. The purpose of our study was to determine if ultrasound-naïve operators can learn ultrasound techniques and develop the psychomotor skills to acquire ultrasound images after reviewing SonoSim® online modules. Methods: This was a prospective study evaluating first-year medical students. Medical students were asked to complete four SonoSim® online modules (aorta/IVC, cardiac, renal, and superficial). They were subsequently asked to perform ultrasound examinations on standardized patients utilizing the learned techniques/skills in the online modules. Emergency Ultrasound-trained physicians evaluated medical students’ sonographic skills in image acquisition quality, image acquisition difficulty, and overall performance. Data are presented as means and percentages with standard deviation. All P values are based on 2-tailed tests of significance. Results: Total of 44 medical students participated in the study. All (100%) students completed the hands-on skills evaluation with a median score of 83.7% (IQR 76.7–88.4%). Thirty-three medical students completed all the online modules and quizzes with median score of 87.5% (IQR 83.8–91.3%). There was a positive association between module quiz performance and the hands-on skills performance (R-squared = 0.45; p < 0.001). There was no statistically significant association between module performance and hands-on performance for any of the four categories individually. In all four categories, the evaluators’ observation of the medical students’ difficulty obtaining views correlated with hands-on performance scores. Conclusions: Our study findings suggest that ultrasound-naïve medical students can develop basic hands-on skills in image acquisition after reviewing online modules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number175
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Asynchronous learning
  • Medical student ultrasound education
  • Point-of-care ultrasound
  • Simulation
  • Ultrasound education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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