Ultrasound in Medical Education: How Far We’ve Come

Point of care ultrasound was an obscure elective during my medical school years, a poorly-attended vacation elective to fill the free time between the match and the first day of residency. At the time, the 2 Emergency Medicine attendings directing the course volunteered an expertise, which endured widespread disregard; their craft persisted, unappreciated by the department and hospital. These faculty had a unique passion, a vision of a paradigm shift in medicine that would save more lives, make better decisions, and improve overall care.

I was initially skeptical of that vision. When they expressed excitement over our new, $50,000 Micromaxx (considered a bargain at the time), it sounded to me like the typical exorbitant medical expense with marginal benefit, peddled by savvy sales rmorrow_image1eps. Then we caught our first tamponade in cardiac arrest during a pulse check and I was hooked: POCUS didn’t belong as one of those obscure hobbies limited to the especially nerdy, but was a vital diagnostic and procedural tool, to be learned and disseminated. I went through residency clearly enamored with the technology. To my dismay, early in my internship, we lost our ultrasound director. It was then that I found mentors in podcasts and through the Free and Open Access Medical Education (FOAMed) community.

By my final year of residency, nurses and attendings were calling on me to pause my work in my assigned pod to travel to theirs to help with US-guided procedures. Having identified the need, I started teaching residents and nurses US-guided procedures. The barriers to education were high-quality simulation phantoms, machine access, and educational time. Time we could volunteer, and for machines we begged and borrowed, but for phantoms, we hit a wall. I searched for answers in the young community of FOAMed but found few workable alternatives to the hundred-to-thousand-dollar commercial phantoms. It was at this impasse that I found inspiration from Mythbusters’ use of ballistics gel. I experimented with ballistics gel to create my own phantom and found it morrow_dsf8521to be an effective and practical alternative to the commercial phantoms. I was approached by several companies aiming to turn this into a money-making opportunity, but I felt this information needed to be shared. This skill was too critical to keep it locked up behind a patent. Instead, with the whole-hearted spirit of FOAMed, I published guides and answered questions and gave cooking classes.

I’ve continued to follow the vision of bringing bedside ultrasound to widespread use, from residency to fellowship, and now into my role as Emergency Ultrasound Director and Director of Ultrasound Education at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville. The future is bright: the FOAMed community is large and growing; US technology is being integrated into earlier stages of medical education; and pocket machines are bringing US in closer reach of the busy clinician. Ultrasound is moving into the hands of clinicians at the bedside and becoming an extension of our physical exam, and there is a growing literature base to support this trend. Someday ultrasound will take its rightful place next to the stethoscope, and my job as an “ultrasound director” will seem as foreign a concept as “director of auscultation.” The complementary forces of FOAMed and formal medical education will bring us to this future of safer procedures and greater diagnostic accuracy, and I am excited to be a part of it.

How have you seen ultrasound medical education change? What are your favorite FOAMed resources? Comment below or let us know on Twitter: @AIUM_Ultrasound.

Dustin Stephen Morrow, MD, RDMS, is Ultrasound Director at Greenville Health System Emergency Medicine, as well as Director of Ultrasound Education at University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville. He can be found on Twitter: @pocusmaverick.

Why SonoStuff.com?

Three reasons:

As a co-director of technology enabled active learning (TEAL) at the UC Davis school of medicine I incorporate important technologies into the medical curriculum, which has primarily been point of care ultrasound (POCUS). Ultrasound is an incredible medical education tool and curriculum integration tool. It can be used to teach, reinforce, and expand lessons in anatomy, physiology, pathology, physical exam, and the list goes on.

I knew there was a better way to teach medical students thaschick_photo_1n standing in front of the classroom and giving a lecture. Student’s need to learn hands-on, spatial reasoning, and critical thinking skills to become excellent physicians. Teaching clinically relevant topics with ultrasound in small groups with individualized instruction
is the best strategy. I needed to flip the classroom.

I started by creating online lectures for an introduction to ultrasound lecture, thoracic anatomy, and abdominal anatomy:

Introduction to Ultrasound, POCUS

FAST Focused Assessment of Sonography in Trauma Part 1

FAST Focused Assessment of Sonography in Trauma Part 2

Aorta Exam AAA POCUS

Introduction in Cardiac Ultrasound POCUS

Topics quickly grew in scope and depth. I initially housed my lectures on YouTube and emailed them out to students before the ultrasound laboratory sessions. However, I wanted a platform that allowed for improved organization and showcasing. I needed a single oschick_photo_2nline resource they could go to to find those materials I was making specific to their medical curriculum.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOhSjAZJnKpo8pP7ypvKDsw

Around the same time, during a weekly ultrasound quality assurance session in my emergency department I realized we were reviewing hundreds of scans each month and the reviewers were the only ones benefiting educationally from the process. Many cases were unique and important for education and patient care.

We began providing more feedback to our emergency sonographers and I decided I could use the same software I was using to develop material for the school of schick_photo_3medicine to highlight the most significant contributions to POCUS in our department every week. I quickly realized I needed a resource to house all these videos, one that anyone in my department could refer to when needed. The most efficient and creative method was to start a blog. I was discussing the project and possible names for the blog with colleagues and Dr. Sarah Medeiros said, “sounds like it’s a bunch of ultrasound stuff”. https://sonostuff.com was born.

I owe a great deal to free and open access to medical education or FOAMed. I was hungry for more POCUS education in residency and the ultrasoundpodcast.com came to the rescue. I became a local expert as a resident and even traveled to Tanzania to teach POCUS.

schick_photo_4I primarily began www.SonoStuff.com to organize and share with my department of emergency medicine and school of medicine, but it grew into a contribution to the growing body of amazing education resources that is FOAMed. I now use it as a resource in my global development work along with the many other FOAMed resources.

The work we all do in FOAMed, including AIUM’s the Scan, are an incredible and necessary resource. I have read the textbooks and attended the lectures, but I would not be where I am without FOAMed. I know all or most of those contributing to FOAMed do it out of love for education and patient care, without reimbursement or time off. Thank you to the many high-quality contributors and I am proud to play a small part in the FOAMed movement.schick_photo_5

Michael Schick, DO, MA, is Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at UC Davis Medical Center and Co-Director of Technology Enabled Active Learning, UC Davis School of Medicine. He is creator of www.sonostuff.com and can be reached on Twitter: ultrasoundstuff.

FOAMed Made Me A Better Lecturer

My glossy, relentless smile slowly began to sag. My enthusiasm waned. I asked myself, “Why are you even here?

Although that was the first time I actually asked the question, truth be told, it had been germinating in my brain for the past few months.FullSizeRender

It was during one particularly bland and unprepared lecture in my first year of medical school when I found it nearly impossible to read the deluge of text on the PowerPoint slide and listen to the speaker. Not only was I quickly losing interest, but the speaker appeared to be caught off guard by the content of his own slides.  The phrase “Why did I put that in this slide?” was uttered over and over again. Unfortunately, my despair was not limited to this one professor or this one lecture. In fact, getting a good lecture was more outlier than standard.

It was at that moment I decided to stop attending lectures. I figured since the speakers gave me access to their slides and all they were doing in class was reading the slides, I could stay at home and do just as well. As validation for this theory, my grades improved.

Shortly after graduating medical school, I was asked to give my first lecture as an intern. What did I do? I created a PowerPoint with bullets. That lecture went over about as well as those medical school lectures did: horribly.

While the content was acceptable, the presentation wasn’t engaging, and worst of all, it was boring. I found myself perpetuating the cycle and becoming a part of the problem rather than a solution.

For my next lecture, instead of focusing on the required content, I focused on my audience. Luckily I had a group of mentors who had grappled with this so I began to study not only the content of their lectures but also how they lectured.

Soon after, I discovered podcasts and the #FOAMed (Free Open Access Medical Education) movement. Inexplicably, I found I could watch an entire 20-minute talk online without checking my phone. For someone with the attention span of a small bird, this was no small feat.

I tried to emulate what I had been learning and observing for my next talk, and when I gave my next lecture to the residents, I found they were spending less time on their phones and computers and more time engaged in my lecture. After that experience, I immediately asked for more opportunities to lecture because I knew the only way to improve was to do more of them. While the residency was very accommodating, they were only able to give me a lecture every couple of months, and I needed more.

Since I couldn’t give lectures to our residents as frequently as I desired, I thought maybe I could practice on my computer. Initially, I figured I could record a few lectures and put them on YouTube. But the more I thought about it, the more I wasn’t sure this is how I wanted to distribute my content. I always got distracted when I went on YouTube. I would start looking for ultrasound videos and then somehow end up watching an hour of compilations of cats falling asleep and rollerbladers falling.

That’s when I thought about creating a website. I wanted a place where I could upload all of my lectures in an easy-to-navigate format, with minimal distractions. I remember reading somewhere that the average student attention span was approximately 10 minutes, so decided I was going to try and make my videos 5 minutes long to increase the likelihood that people would actually watch the whole video. That’s where 5-minute sono was born.

Eventually I purchased a USB microphone and paid for good screen capture software and began recording. Initially I wanted to focus on purely instructional videos without any mention of the evidence or current literature. This made it much easier to keep my content as short as possible, with the long-term plan to create a podcast where I could talk about literature as much as I wanted. Setting up a website to look good and work seamlessly is very difficult. Thankfully the ultrasound director where I went to residency is kind of a genius on that front. There have definitely been a few hiccups along the way, but overall the experience of been pretty amazing. This has taken a tremendous amount of work, but viewership has been steadily increasing, which is encouraging.  I still have a large amount of instructional 5-minute sono videos to create, but decided to start introducing more literature reviews in the form of a blog and podcasts. Soon I’ll begin my faculty position at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Department of Emergency Medicine, and anticipate I’ll be able to lecture to the residents to my heart’s content. But that won’t stop me from continuing the steady stream of ultrasound instructional videos and supporting the FOAMed movement.

How do you make your talks more engaging? What are your favorite FOAMed resources? Comment below or let us know on Twitter: @AIUM_Ultrasound.

Jacob Avila, MD, is Co-fellowship and Ultrasound Director, Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, Tennessee. To check out some of his FOAMed material, visit 5 Min Sono.

Cadaver Lab Isn’t Just for First Years

sarto

Credit: Rob Swatski

Of all the things people say they remember learning in medical school, the location and function of the sartorius muscle is usually not one of them. For me, I can still see the muscle lying diagonally across the dissected thigh—small but purposeful, leaving me to wonder how this tiny thing so miraculously and perfectly made it from one side of the leg to the other through evolution and use.

This memory is representative of how thought-provoking and educational cadaveric dissection was for me as a novice clinician. The sight of the
cadaver on the gurney, along with the smells, the noises, and the presence of a real human being in front of me, were my first clinical experiences of bedside learning from a patient, and it had a significant effect on me.

Despite living in the digital age where extraordinary feats in medical technology have occurred over such a short period of time, cadavers remain a fundamental part of medical education. Training and educating students with human cadavers is not just a pedagogical exercise. Cadaveric dissection emphasizes understanding of a structure’s spatial orientation and function, but perhaps more importantly, it provides a contextual environment that differs from rote memorization that often accompanies anatomical learning. Additionally, cadaveric education has gained wider importance at the post-graduate level as a training element for surgical and emergent ultrasound-guided procedures.

Dr. Demetrios Demetriades, Chief of Trauma and Surgical Intensive Care at Los Angeles County Medical Center in Los Angeles, understood the value of this type of training, and in 2006 worked with the County of Los Angeles to create a cadaveric procedural training lab for post-graduate trainees. The lab was designed to be used by residents and fellows for procedural education, practice, and anatomical dissection. There is a dedicated, full-time staff that includes a perfusionist, a technical assistant, and an administrative team through the Department of Surgery. The lab is used 2 to 3 times a day by various surgical specialties, anesthesia, and the emergency medicine residency, which includes our ultrasound division. The emergency ultrasound division uses the lab once a month to train residents and ultrasound fellows how to perform various point-of-care ultrasound-guided procedures, such as ultrasound-guided central and peripheral line placement.

Unlike other simulation modalities such as gel phantoms, human tissue phantoms, or simulators, performing ultrasound-guided procedures in the cadaver lab allows the trainee to have the tactile experience, where (s)he is touching skin, performing the procedure, and using real procedural tools on human tissue. The importance of this from a training and educational standpoint is that the trainee is in a controlled setting, has time to reflect upon the learning as it occurs, can discuss procedural technique openly with the attending, and can perform the procedure repeatedly in a safe environment.

For emergency medicine providers, the impact of using the procedural cadaver lab for ultrasound-guided procedures and anatomical learning cannot be underestimated. John James (2013) estimated that more than 400,000 deaths occurred in a 3-year span due to medical errors in the hospital setting, making it the third leading cause of death in the U.S. The conditions by which we practice our specialty are always under the auspices of being emergent. Although it has been well documented that ultrasound makes care safer and more efficient, ultrasound as a modality warrants the same practice and repetition as the procedures it provides assistance to. The cadaver lab provides this exposure to openly learn in an inaugural fashion and by one’s mistakes. It seems fitting, then, to make the cadaver lab a more central part of medical education—a place we can come back to on a regular basis as we learn and improve our skill.  Just think of the memories we’ll make.

What learning experience had the most impact on you? What other experiences should we ensure continue? Have a cadaver lab story to share? Comment below or let us know on Twitter: @AIUM_Ultrasound.

Tarina Lee Kang, MD, is Assistant Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine and Division Chief of Emergency Medicine Ultrasound at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.