Retention of Ultrasound Skills and Training in “Point-of-Care” Cardiac Ultrasound

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Abstract

Background:

Although the growth of point-of-care ultrasound has resulted in a proliferation of teaching programs, few data exist on the maintenance of proficiency. The aim of this study was to evaluate the retention of cardiac ultrasound skills and training in physicians up to 7 years after a formal focused curriculum in residency.

Methods:

Thirty internal medicine physicians, deemed proficient at graduation and having passed a practical examination that confirms imaging skills and knowledge base when a score of ≥80% correct is attained, were retested. Twenty graduates (the NOPREP group) did not study any relevant material, and 10 graduates (the PREP group) were encouraged to study online videos. Scores were categorized by length of time (1-7 years) from graduates' last performance of ultrasound.

Results:

The mean original test score of the physicians was 90 ± 6%. With retesting NOPREP (n = 20), seven physicians were within 1 year of their last use, and five (71%) repassed the examination, scoring 80 ± 15%. Among the remaining 13 NOPREP physicians who had >1 year of nonuse, none repassed, scoring 58 ± 17%. In retesting PREP (n = 10), one physician was within 1 year of last use and repassed, scoring 95%. Among the remaining nine PREP physicians with >1 year since last use, three (33%) repassed (P = .05), scoring 72 ± 21%. Diagnostic knowledge was significantly higher when good-quality images were obtained.

Conclusions:

Learned skills in cardiac ultrasound diminish notably within 2 years of nonuse.

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