Medical educators' perspectives of teaching physical examinations using ultrasonography at the undergraduate level
Background: Ultrasonography is increasingly used for teaching physical examination in medical schools. This study seeks the opinions of educators as to which physical examinations would be most enhanced by the addition of ultrasonography. We also asked when ultrasound-aided physical examination teaching could have deleterious effects if used outside its intended scope.
Methods: All of the educators from the University of Calgary Master Teacher Program were invited to complete a 22-item paper-based survey. Survey items were generated independently by two investigators, with input from an expert panel (N = 5).
Results: Of the 36 educators, 27 (75%) completed the survey. Examinations identified to be potentially most useful included: measuring the size of the abdominal aorta, identifying the presence/absence of ascites, identifying the presence/absence of pleural effusions, and measuring the size of the bladder. Examinations thought to be potentially most harmful included: identifying the presence/absence of intrauterine pregnancy, measuring the size of the abdominal aorta, and identifying the presence/absence of pericardial effusion.
Conclusions: Examinations that are potentially the most useful may also be potentially the most harmful. When initiating an ultrasound curriculum for physical examinations, educators should weigh the risks and benefits of examinations chosen.
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