Canadian Federation of
Medical Students

Western Medical Student Ultrasound Symposium

Western Medical Student Ultrasound Symposium - Western University

Following its inaugural success, the Point of Care Ultrasound Interest Group is pleased to announce that the 2nd Annual Western Medical Student Ultrasound Symposium will be held August 23-24th, 2014 at the CSTAR facility on the Western University campus. We are excited that Canadian medical students continue to see the value in early ultrasound instruction and are pleased to open this event to medical students nation-wide.

The symposium is a 2-day workshop series that provides medical students from across Canada with an introduction to bedside ultrasound. The weekend equips students with the knowledge and confidence to generate and interpret high quality ultrasound images. Didactic lectures are be enhanced by considerable opportunity for the development of practical ultrasound skills. In fact, over 10 hours of scanning time in the state-of-the-art CSTAR skills lab is scheduled throughout the weekend. The intent of the symposium is to provide as much opportunity as possible for the development of practical ultrasound skills.

As the name implies, the premise of point-of-care-ultrasound (POCUS) is to acquire images at the bedside to assist in the delivery of timely medical care. POCUS has even been termed the “visual stethoscope” as it provides clinicians an avenue with which to obtain real-time information about a patient. The clinical value of POCUS is often readily apparent, even to junior medical students. It can be immensely satisfying to use ultrasound to visually confirm what is suspected clinically.

The idea for the first POCUS symposium began incidentally after Chris Byrne, then a third year clinical clerk at Western witnessed POCUS being used in the emergency department. He immediately recognized the potential for ultrasound to assist medical trainees in bridging the gap between knowledge and clinical experience.

Consider the value of sonographically confirming an abdominal aortic aneurysm in a patient after having identified the relevant signs and symptoms on physical exam! The “instant gratification” this modality provides serves to strengthen the educational value of POCUS from the perspective of the medical trainee. However this value is often limited by a general lack of medical student familiarity with the principles of POCUS.

With this problem identified, a monthly student club was formed to provide both instruction on the principles of POCUS and opportunity for hands-on practice. These monthly ultrasound workshops were an immediate hit with Schulich students and are now into their second year. Many of these mini-workshops are filled to capacity and even include an extensive waitlist! These sessions deal with practical clinical topics such as detection of an abdominal aortic aneurysm or pericardial tamponade. The visual nature of ultrasound allows students to quickly grasp its clinical uses and, from a trainee perspective it allows students to translate “book knowledge” into a practical or clinical understanding.

The positive response from the Schulich student body triggered the idea of hosting a summer ultrasound symposium for Canadian medical students. Last August, thirty-five students from five Canadian medical schools attended the inaugural event. The student response to the event was overwhelmingly positive. Both the didactic lectures and hands-on scanning time were well received and the majority of students indicated that they would attend again or recommend the symposium to others.

The continued success of the monthly student group suggests that enthusiasm for point-of-care ultrasound continues to grow. This year, the POCUS Interest Group at Western now has 172 members and has planned 6 events over the past academic year! Because of this ongoing interest we felt that the ultrasound symposium should become an annual occurrence and we are pleased to invite medical students nation-wide to attend this year’s event.

We do not feel that the significant enthusiasm for early ultrasound exposure is unique to Western medical students. In fact, given the fact that last year’s ultrasound symposium had representatives from 5 medical schools we feel that there is a significant opportunity for student leaders at other Canadian medical schools to launch similar initiatives at their home schools. For those individuals, our advice as student leaders in this project would be to connect passionate and motivated members of the student body with staff physicians, fellows and residents who share similar passions.

To learn more about this year’s event, please visit our website.

Feel free to contact me with questions or comments.

Nick Packer: [email protected]