Ultrasound skills teaching in UK medical education: a systematic review

Emer McCormick, Brendan Flanagan, Christopher D. Johnson, Eva M. Sweeney*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
61 Downloads (Pure)


Sonography is increasingly integrated into medical curricula to prepare students for clinical practice. In 2022, we conducted a systematic review to explore the degree to which ultrasound skill acquisition is incorporated into undergraduate medial education in the United Kingdom.

A search of Medline and Embase databases from 2003 to 2022 identified 15 relevant articles. Studies were included if they described ultrasound skills training in UK undergraduate medical education.

A range of teaching methods were reported including didactic demonstrations, hands-on experience and combinations thereof. Portable machines were more common than cart-based machines, and most demonstrators were ultrasound-trained clinicians. Ultrasound teaching is well received, with improvements in confidence using ultrasound, motivation to learn anatomy and retention of knowledge.

Obstacles to integration were noted including training, cost, curriculum time constraints and the issue of incidental pathology. One study demonstrated that anatomists with appropriate training could provide ultrasound teaching, reducing the need for clinicians or sonographers. Costs may be reduced by renting machines or purchasing portable/hand-held devices. Allowing access to machines during student's free time may address scheduling difficulties. A final recommendation is to pre-scan volunteers prior to the teaching session.

We have outlined approaches to ultrasound skills teaching and the inherent hurdles to this, as well as potential solutions. This may aid educators wishing to augment their curricula. Although there are relatively few studies from the United Kingdom, there is consensus that students enjoy the incorporation of ultrasound practice and believe it complements existing teaching, especially in a small group setting.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13635
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Teacher
Issue number5
Early online date01 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • General Medicine
  • Review and Exam Preparation


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