Current Use and Barriers to Point-of-Care Ultrasound in Primary Care: A National Survey of VA Medical Centers

Robert Nathanson, Jason P. Williams, Neil Gupta, Austin Rezigh, Michael J. Mader, Elizabeth K. Haro, Brandy Drum, Edward O'Brien, Rahul Khosla, Jeremy S. Boyd, Brian Bales, Erin Wetherbee, Harald Sauthoff, Christopher K. Schott, Zahir Basrai, Dana Resop, Brian P. Lucas, Nilam J. Soni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: More primary care providers (PCPs) have begun to embrace the use of point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS), but little is known about how PCPs are currently using POCUS and what barriers exist. In this prospective study, the largest systematic survey of POCUS use among PCPs, we assessed the current use, barriers to use, program management, and training needs for POCUS in primary care. Methods: We conducted a prospective observational study of all VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) between June 2019 and March 2020 using a web-based survey sent to all VAMC Chiefs of Staff and Chiefs of primary care clinics (PCCs). Results: Chiefs of PCCs at 105 VAMCs completed the survey (82% response rate). Only 13% of PCCs currently use POCUS, and the most common applications used were bladder and musculoskeletal ultrasound. Desire for POCUS training exceeded current use, but lack of trained providers (78%), ultrasound equipment (66%), and funding for training (41%) were common barriers. Program infrastructure to support POCUS use was uncommon, and only 9% of VAMCs had local policies related to POCUS. Most PCC chiefs (64%) would support POCUS training. Conclusions: Current use of POCUS in primary care is low despite the recent growth of POCUS training in Internal Medicine residency programs. Investment in POCUS training and program infrastructure is needed to expand POCUS use in primary care and ensure adequate supervision of trainees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)592-595.e2
JournalAmerican Journal of Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Barriers
  • Point-of-care ultrasound
  • Primary care
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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