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[Abstract] Assessing the usefulness of ultrasound as a tool for teaching anatomy to the medical student

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-09, 09:05 authored by Andrew DilleyAndrew Dilley, Claire SmithClaire Smith
Ultrasound is becoming an important tool for teaching anatomy in modern medical curricula, which is largely because of improved image quality and portability. In contrast to traditional teaching methods, ultrasound provides students with a live window into the body so that functional anatomy can be viewed in real-time. Importantly, ultrasound provides a clinically relevant approach to learning anatomy. At Brighton and Sussex Medical School, ultrasound has been fully integrated into year 1 and 2 of the MBBS medical curriculum in small group teaching sessions (n = 15), which total 12 hours. To determine the usefulness of ultrasound for teaching anatomy, students completed an evaluation questionnaire consisting of 15 questions following each systems-based module in years 1 and 2. All responses (n = 49 -111) were scored on a five point Likert scale. At the end of year 2, 86.4% of students agreed (combined agreed and strongly agreed scores) that understanding anatomy through ultrasound is very relevant to clinical practice. However, only 62.1% agreed that using ultrasound has helped in their understanding of gross anatomy, which contrasted from 81.2% in year 1. At the end of year 2, half of students (51.5%) agreed that they found it easy to identify organs on ultrasound and more than 64.7% of students could identify different musculoskeletal structures (i.e. blood vessels, bone and muscle). When asked whether students found it easy to move between 2D and 3D when using ultrasound, 43.2% of students agreed with this statement. However, following examination of the heart in year 1, only 8% of students agreed. In summary, interpretation of an ultrasound image can be challenging for students. In particular, students find it difficult to orientate a 2D slice through organs such as the heart, which is largely because small adjustments in probe orientation can result in unfamiliar views. Students clearly understand the clinical relevance of ultrasound. With increasing use of ultrasound in clinics, early exposure will undoubtedly help prepare students for clinical practice. Finally, this work clearly emphasises the need for better learning resources in this field.


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FASEB Journal




Federation of American Society of Experimental Biology





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  • Division of Medical Education Publications


ISSN: 0892-6638

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