Cureus. 2022 Jun 14;14(6):e25944. doi: 10.7759/cureus.25944. eCollection 2022 Jun.
INTRODUCTION: The use of point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) by internal medicine physicians and residents is increasing. We present the results of a pilot study to implement a POCUS curriculum that was interrupted by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic at an internal medicine residency program at a community hospital. The purpose of this study is to inquire about the attitude and interest of our medical residents in POCUS. Additionally, we also plan to examine whether a curriculum that lacks some practical aspects due to COVID-19 restrictions can still improve the residents' confidence in recognizing common POCUS applications and improve image interpretation skills.
METHODS: We conducted a prospective, pre-, and post-curriculum pilot study to examine the POCUS skills of categorical internal medicine residents in Post-Graduate Years (PGY) 1 through 3 at a community hospital. The two POCUS-related skills examined were self-reported confidence level in recognizing certain POCUS examination findings and POCUS image interpretation skills. Due to social distancing guidelines, we were unable to host hands-on sessions as originally planned, but residents did receive lectures via Zoom regarding POCUS training and also organ-specific diagnoses. Three primary outcomes were measured: (1) baseline difference in confidence level between interns (PGY-1) and senior residents (PGY-2 and 3) at the beginning of the curriculum, (2) improvement in POCUS confidence level before and after the curriculum considering interns and senior residents all together and also separately, and (3) improvement in image interpretation skills before and after the curriculum.
RESULTS: Of 41 residents, 23 participants completed the pre- and post-curriculum test. Of the 23 participants, 12 participants were interns, and 11 were senior residents. Overall, interns showed a statistically significant improvement in the confidence level in almost all diagnoses except pulmonary embolism (p = 0.084). For image interpretation tests, significant improvement was found only in recognizing the two signs of pneumothorax: pleural line absent sliding (X2 = 4.00, p < 0.05) and the barcode sign (X2 = 6.13, p < 0.05). The pre-curriculum confidence level questionnaire included a question about residents' interest in learning POCUS during residency. It showed that the vast majority of residents (21 residents [91%]) are either extremely or mostly interested in POCUS. Most of our residents (18 [78%]) did not have formal exposure to POCUS during medical school.
CONCLUSION: A POCUS curriculum that lacks hands-on workshops and longitudinal image saving and reviewing due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions did not improve the residents' image interpretation skills, although the confidence levels of the interns statistically improved. After the pandemic, we plan to implement the full curriculum and examine whether it will improve the residents' image acquisition and interpretation skills.