Trialling ultrasound in medical education
The School of Rural Medicine at the University of New England has instigated an extra-curricular elective as part of a trial that could lead to ultrasound playing a bigger role in the education of medical students in the Joint Medical Program (JMP).
Ultrasound technology can enrich students' understanding of human anatomy, of how the body fits together and functions normally.
“Giving students the capacity to understand the body in a dynamic sense by looking at moving muscles or the internal structure of a beating heart adds an extra dimension to learning from still specimens,” said Professor Ian Symonds, Dean of the JMP.
“This can then translate into recognising abnormalities in an unwell patient.”
An initiative of the School of Rural Medicine, the ultrasound course is being run as an extra curricula unit for Years 1-3 at UNE. While offering an innovative area of learning for students, the JMP is also investigating the possibility of ultrasound technologies complementing the delivery of the core curriculum in the future.
To offer the program the School of Rural Medicine has capitalised on UNE's relationship with the University of California - Irvine Medical School (UCI) and the University of South Carolina who are pioneering applications of ultrasound technology as part of their graduate entry medical programs.
JMP students at UNE have been participating in live demonstrations of ultrasound and completed learning modules by online delivery from two American Universities. Practical skills sessions have been facilitated by UNE academic staff and visiting medical students from UCI. These enabled students to get hands on experience in small groups and complete a number of assessment tasks.
The next phase in the project has begun with a pilot of joint, real-time, ultrasound with simulated patients and a small group of students. These are held simultaneously in both Armidale and Irvine classrooms. This NBN enabled video-linkage allowed students in Armidale to have their ultrasound technique and their images viewed and corrected in real time by Professor Christian Fox , from UCI.
“Through the evaluation of this trial, the JMP hopes to begin to develop an understanding of the degree in which ultrasound technologies enriches knowledge in its students and the potential for future development into core curriculum,” said Professor Symonds.