Hempstead, New York— Second-year medical student Fiore Mastroianni and first-year student Jacquelyn Nestor from the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine recently took part in an ultrasound conference which took a look at how ultrasound is being currently used in medical education. The conference was hosted by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, a multidisciplinary medical association of more than 9000 physicians, sonographers, scientists, students, and other health care providers. The students spoke about their experiences with ultrasound as an integral part of the first and second year curriculum at the medical school, where they start learning the basics of ultrasound on the second day of school.
“The ultrasound conference was a good way to see what the national picture on ultrasound education looks like,” said Fiore. “I appreciate the ways our school uses ultrasound in anatomy and physical diagnosis. I think it has made all of us more aware of ultrasound as a tool for physical diagnosis, instead of a test to order.”
“Ultrasound really helps me with visualizing anatomy that we learn in a book,” said Jacquelyn, “and it helps demonstrate the physiology and how things actually work as compared to just seeing static structures in the cadavers.”
Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine is among only a handful of schools that have integrated ultrasound into the curriculum,” according to William Rennie, MD, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, who oversees the ultrasound curriculum.
“Other schools are eager to follow our lead,” Rennie said. “At our school we treat ultrasound as a true clinical skill, just like any other, that must be learned, practiced, improved, corrected, practiced again and reflected upon,” said Dr. Rennie. “We also use it to foster clinical reasoning-a part of learning to ask and answer focused clinical questions.”
Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine Associate Professor of Radiology, John Pellerito, MD, also spoke at the conference. Dr. Pellerito said that ultrasound is a valuable tool utilized at the patient’s bedside by many medical specialties. Ultrasound is used routinely in emergency medicine, obstetrics, gynecology, cardiology, vascular medicine, anesthesiology and multiple surgical subspecialties.
“It is a core clinical skill for many divisions of medicine, and early exposure builds a foundation that can be developed in residency and fellowship training,” Dr. Pellerito said. "The integration of ultrasound into the medical curriculum plays a dual role in student education. In our experience, ultrasound enhances the educational experience in the classroom and promotes the practice of medicine at the bedside. In the classroom, ultrasound imaging allows anatomy and physiology to ‘come alive.’”
Jacquelyn said that as a first year medical student she is extremely advanced in her ultrasound knowledge compared to first year students at other schools. In addition, the ultrasound sessions always correlate to what the students are learning in the classroom and structure lab.
“It is always exciting to have background information and really understand what we are looking for and why ultrasound is being utilized,” said Jacquelyn.
“Our students have, on their own, used ultrasound to forge their own connections between patients and their illnesses, including correlations with gross and microscopic pathology--something we don't believe has been previously reported,” Dr. Rennie said.
“Doctors are always surprised when I can recognize things on an ultrasound, or just when they hear that we already have experiences with scanning,” Jacquelyn said. “As ultrasound becomes more and more mobile, I think it is going to become a really useful piece of technology that can be utilized to gather a great deal of information quickly, in almost all fields of medicine.”
According to Fiore, "point-of-care ultrasound" is gaining traction as various specialties incorporate bedside ultrasound into clinical decision making.
“Speed, real-time imaging and no radiation make ultrasound a good tool for a large variety of of patients,” he said. “Our ultrasound curriculum, because it is mandatory and spans our entire first two years, should make us more conscientious users of ultrasound, sparing our future patients radiation exposure and increasing the speed with which we make decisions about them.”