Outcomes from extensive training in critical care echocardiography: Identifying the optimal number of practice studies required to achieve competency

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Abstract

Purpose

Optimal instruction and assessment of critical care ultrasound (CCUS) skills requires an assessment tool to measure learner competency and changes over time. In this study, a previously published tool was used to monitor the development of critical care echocardiography (CCE) competencies, the attainment of performance plateaus, and the extent to which previous experience influenced learning.

Materials and methods

A group of experts used the Rapid Assessment of Competency in Echocardiography (RACE) scale to rate a large pool of CCE studies performed by novices in a longitudinal design. A total of 380 studies performed by twelve learners were assessed; each study was independently rated by two experts.

Results

Learners demonstrated improvement in mean RACE scores over time, with peak performance occurring early in training and a performance plateau thereafter. Learners with little experience received the greatest benefit from training, with an average performance plateau reached at the twentieth study.

Conclusions

Supporting earlier results, the RACE scale provided a straightforward means to assess learner performance with minimal requirements for evaluator training. The results of the present study suggest that novices experience the greatest gains in competency during their first twenty practice studies, a threshold which should serve to guide training initiatives.

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