How and how well do pediatric radiology fellows learn ultrasound skills? A national survey

Susan J Back, Michael S Gurian, Janet R Reid, Kassa Darge
Pediatric Radiology 2014, 44 (9): 1058-64

BACKGROUND: Ultrasound (US) comprises a significant portion of pediatric imaging. Technical as well as interpretive skills in US imaging are consequently fundamental in training pediatric radiologists. Unfortunately, formalized technical education regarding US imaging in pediatric fellowships has lagged.

OBJECTIVE: We surveyed pediatric fellows and program directors regarding US scanning education to improve this experience moving forward.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We conducted an online survey from February 2011 to March 2011 of all United States pediatric radiology body imaging fellows and fellowship program directors. Questions posed to fellows assessed their educational US experiences during their residencies and fellowships. Directors were asked to evaluate US educational opportunities in their programs.

RESULTS: Among the respondents, 43.9% of fellows undertook on-call US scanning without a sonographer during residency, 23.3% during fellowship; 41.8% of fellows and 58.6% of program directors reported that their fellowship had a dedicated curriculum to facilitate independent US scanning. Both fellows and program directors cited the volume of cases requiring immediate dictation as an obstacle to scanning. Fewer program directors than fellows identified lack of sufficient staffing as an obstacle, but more identified fellow disinterest. Program directors and fellows alike rated independent US scanning as highly important to pediatric radiologists' future success.

CONCLUSION: Pediatric radiology fellowship directors and fellows agree that technical US skills are crucial to the practice of pediatric radiology. However, the groups identify different obstacles to training. As US instruction is developing in undergraduate medicine and subspecialists are acquiring point-of-care US skills, pediatric radiology education should address the obstacles to US training and formalize a curriculum at the fellowship level.

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