Preparing for a Bright Future with Ultrasound
While Dr. Richard Hoppmann of the University of South Carolina
(USC) School of Medicine can’t predict the future, he has no
doubt that ultrasound and the use of pocket-sized devices like
Vscan will become a core clinical skill that promising physicians
must learn in medical school. Its acceptance as a valuable tool
for teaching and practicing medicine is why.
“You can compare it to learning to use a stethoscope,” says
Dr. Hoppmann when reflecting on the growing importance of
ultrasound and pocket-sized ultrasound devices. “You would
never wait until students are in residency before teaching them
how to use a stethoscope. The same is true with ultrasound. It
just makes so much sense for students to have that foundation
early on. I don’t know when, but it’s going to be a standard
practice in teaching and medical practice.”
Hoppmann says using ultrasound to prepare medical students
for a career in medicine has moved far beyond the idea stage.
“It helps students understand and learn anatomy, physiology,
pathology – all areas of medicine,” he says. “It’s a great
diagnostic and teaching tool.”
Dr. Hoppmann championed ultrasound education at the USC
School of Medicine, a practice now in its eighth year. The
university uses ultrasound as part of its curriculum throughout
all four years of medical school. Under Dr. Hoppmann’s
leadership, the school also hosted the first World Congress of
Ultrasound in Medical Education (WCUME) in 2011 and held the
second one in September of 2013.
At the USC School of Medicine, course directors incorporate
the use of ultrasound into lectures and lab work. Students are
trained to use ultrasound to learn and work with physicians
to help diagnose and treat patients. Training covers the use
of laptop and pocket-sized devices and image interpretation.
Students practice ultrasound on “standardized patients,” which
is the name for people trained to act as real patients. The
patients themselves follow a standardized process that allows
educators to accurately and fairly assess students in a number
of areas, including their interaction with patients.
Eventually, students at the school use ultrasound to help
physicians diagnose patients with a wide variety of diseases.
At USC, all third-year students who study internal medicine,
family medicine and pediatrics are given a Vscan device for
use throughout the remainder of their clerkships. Third-year
students must also take an ultrasound Objective Structured
Clinical Exam (OSCE) to assess their knowledge and skills in
ultrasound, including the use of a pocket-sized device.
The mobility and convenience of a small, yet powerful device
like Vscan is uniquely advantageous in the field of education,