Send to

Choose Destination
J Surg Educ. 2010 May-Jun;67(3):152-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2010.02.008.

Is basic emergency ultrasound training feasible as part of standard undergraduate medical education?

Author information

Division of Surgery, Imperial College London, St. Mary's Hospital Campus, London, United Kingdom.



Bedside ultrasonography is regularly used by surgeons and emergency physicians to perform focused assessment with sonography in trauma (FAST) in acutely-injured patients. Despite this, there is no formal ultrasound training in UK undergraduate curricula and postgraduate accreditation remains difficult to achieve. This study aims to assess the feasibility of teaching basic ultrasound skills to undergraduates using FAST scanning as a model module.


Students were enrolled in a 5-hour theoretical and practical FAST scanning course. Ultrasound scanning competencies were ascertained using a 1-hour formal objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) assessment consisting of case-based discussions, problem-solving exercises, a complete FAST scan on a human volunteer, and free fluid detection exercises in organic simulators. A questionnaire was used to ascertain students' opinion on ultrasonography in undergraduate training.


Twenty-five volunteer medical students (years 3 and 5) from a London medical school.


Students did not have prior experience of formal ultrasound training. The mean score achieved in the summative assessment was 86%. Eighty-five percent of students completed a full FAST scan at an adequate level of performance in under 6 minutes. The feedback survey indicated that all students felt confident in operating the ultrasound apparatus and were able to obtain good quality images at the end of the 5-hour course. Eighty-eight percent of students thought ultrasonography was relevant to their training; all students intended to seek formal ultrasound accreditation; 92% believed ultrasound training should be a regular component of the curriculum; and 96% of students preferred using cart-based ultrasound machines rather than hand-held devices.


Undergraduate ultrasound tuition is an achievable educational goal which is well received by medical students. Medical schools need to consider the formal introduction of ultrasound teaching in their curricula to equip future doctors with relevant skill sets. The role of handheld ultrasound machines requires further investigation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center