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Comparison of in-person versus tele-ultrasound point-of-care ultrasound training during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Soni NJ, Boyd JS, Mints G, Proud KC, Jensen TP, Liu G, Mathews BK, Schott CK, Kurian L, LoPresti CM, Andrus P, Nathanson R, Smith N, Haro EK, Mader MJ, Pugh J, Restrepo MI, Lucas BP. Comparison of in-person versus tele-ultrasound point-of-care ultrasound training during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ultrasound journal. 2021 Sep 6; 13(1):39.
Lack of training is currently the most common barrier to implementation of point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) use in clinical practice, and in-person POCUS continuing medical education (CME) courses have been paramount in improving this training gap. Due to travel restrictions and physical distancing requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, most in-person POCUS training courses were cancelled. Though tele-ultrasound technology has existed for several years, use of tele-ultrasound technology to deliver hands-on training during a POCUS CME course has not been previously described.
We conducted a retrospective observational study comparing educational outcomes, course evaluations, and learner and faculty feedback from in-person versus tele-ultrasound POCUS courses. The same POCUS educational curriculum was delivered to learners by the two course formats. Data from the most recent pre-pandemic in-person course were compared to tele-ultrasound courses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pre- and post-course knowledge test scores of learners from the in-person (n? = 88) and tele-ultrasound course (n? = 52) were compared. Though mean pre-course knowledge test scores were higher among learners of the tele-ultrasound versus in-person course (78% vs. 71%; p? = 0.001), there was no significant difference in the post-course test scores between learners of the two course formats (89% vs. 87%; p? = 0.069). Both learners and faculty rated the tele-ultrasound course highly (4.6-5.0 on a 5-point scale) for effectiveness of virtual lectures, tele-ultrasound hands-on scanning sessions, and course administration. Faculty generally expressed less satisfaction with their ability to engage with learners, troubleshoot image acquisition, and provide feedback during the tele-ultrasound course but felt learners completed the tele-ultrasound course with a better basic POCUS skillset.
Compared to a traditional in-person course, tele-ultrasound POCUS CME courses appeared to be as effective for improving POCUS knowledge post-course and fulfilling learning objectives. Our findings can serve as a roadmap for educators seeking guidance on development of a tele-ultrasound POCUS training course whose demand will likely persist beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.