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Retention of point-of-care ultrasound skills among practicing physicians

"Practicing physicians can retain POCUS knowledge and hands-on skills 8 months after participating in a 2.5-day POCUS training course" Schott et al (2020).


Background: Point of Care Ultrasound (POCUS) use continues to increase in many specialties, but lack of POCUS training is a known barrier amongst practicing physicians. Many physicians are obtaining POCUS training through post-graduate courses, but the impact of these courses on skill retention and frequency of POCUS use post-course is unknown. The purpose of this study was to assess the change in POCUS knowledge, skills, and frequency of use after 6-9 months of participating in a brief training course.

Methods: Course participants’ POCUS knowledge and hands-on technical skills were tested pre-course using an online, 30-question knowledge test and a directly observed skills test, respectively. The same knowledge and skills tests were repeated immediately post-course and after 6-9 months using remote tele-ultrasound software. Course participants completed a survey on their POCUS use pre-course and after 6-9 months post-course.

Results: 127 providers completed the POCUS training course from October 2016 to November 2017. Knowledge test scores increased from a median of 60% to 90% immediately post-course followed by a slight decline to 87% after 8 months post-course. Median skills test scores for four common POCUS applications (heart, lung, abdomen, vascular access) increased 36-74 points from pre-course to immediately post-course with a 2-7 point decline after 8 months. Providers reported more frequent POCUS use post-course which suggests application of their POCUS knowledge and skills in clinical practice. More frequent use of cardiac POCUS applications was associated with significantly greater retention of cardiac skills at 8 months.

Conclusions: Practicing physicians can retain POCUS knowledge and hands-on skills 8 months after participating in a 2.5-day POCUS training course, regardless of frequency of POCUS use post-course.


Schott CK, LoPresti M, Boyd JS, et al. Retention of Point-of-care Ultrasound Skills among Practicing Physicians: Findings of the VA National Point-of-care Ultrasound Training Program . Am J Med. 2020;S0002-9343(20)30780-4. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2020.08.008