Effect of a longitudinal preclinical point-of-care ultrasound course on medical student performance

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Conference Proceeding

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Academic Emergency Medicine


Background and Objectives: Undergraduate medical educators have incorporated point of care ultrasound training (POCUS) to enhance specific components of basic science medical curricula. Literature on objective outcome data on curriculum efficacy is limited. Our study aims to address this deficit by comparing the preclinical performance of medical students participating in a POCUS curriculum to those who did not. We hypothesized that POCUS would improve scores in sections with clear ultrasound (US) applications but not in other areas where the US curriculum was not as well matched.

Methods: At our institution the curriculum is divided into blocks by organ system. Students were offered a voluntary longitudinal POCUS course that was paired with organ system blocks and the exam performance of those enrolled in the curriculum was retroactively compared to those who did not participate. Multivariate linear regression analyses were used to evaluate the relationship between participation in the POCUS course and exam performance in cardiovascular, gastroenterology, and neurology blocks. Results were controlled for gender, MCAT score, and science versus non-science undergraduate degree. Grades in organ blocks were assigned independently by faculty not involved in this project.

Results: We compared 51 students who completed the curriculum to 127 who did not participate from the same medical school class. Students who participated in the curriculum had a higher mean cardiovascular anatomy exam score (92.1 vs 88.5, p < 0.05) but this difference was not seen with cumulative cardiovascular block scores. No statistically significant differences in anatomy practical or cumulative exam scores were seen with the gastroenterology or neurology blocks.

Conclusion: Medical students enrolled in a longitudinal POCUS curriculum demonstrated improved performance in cardiovascular anatomy exam scores. Our study failed to demonstrate a significant difference in performance in two other organ system sequences within the curriculum. These results suggest that ultrasound education may be most beneficial in specific aspects of undergraduate medical education where the connection between organ system material and US application is strongest. Future directions include evaluating the differences in student performance in the musculoskeletal block, as well as analysis of differences in USMLE scores between participants and non-participants.




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