Purpose: To determine the state of ultrasound education in U.S. medical schools and assess curricular administrators’ opinions on its integration in undergraduate medical education (UME).
Method: In 2012, curricular administrators at 134 U.S. MD-granting medical schools were surveyed concerning the nature of ultrasound education in medical school. The questionnaire sought ultrasound education program characteristics, structures, and objectives. It also sought respondents’ opinions on the role of ultrasound education in UME and barriers to its integration. Frequency and distribution analyses were conducted for survey responses; Rasch analysis was performed for barrier responses.
Results: Responses were received from 82 (61.2%) medical schools; these institutions were representative of the U.S. medical school population. Fifty-one respondents (62.2%) reported ultrasound training was integrated into their UME curriculum. Ultrasound was most commonly taught in the third year (38/82; 46.3%), and the purpose of training varied by curricular year. There was agreement that ultrasound should be part of the UME curriculum (56/71; 78.9%), but few respondents reported it was a priority at their institution (13/70; 18.6%). Respondents perceived lack of space in the curriculum (logit = +0.49; standard error [SE] = 0.11) and lack of financial support (logit = +0.42; SE = 0.11) as the most significant barriers to integration.
Conclusions: Despite a general consensus that ultrasound is an important skill to teach in medical school, the integration of ultrasound education in U.S. schools is highly variable. This study indicates a need for national standards to guide the integration of ultrasound education into U.S. medical school curricula.