Retention of Point-of-Care Ultrasound Skills Among Practicing Physicians: Findings of the VA National POCUS Training Program

Christopher K. Schott, Charles M. LoPresti, Jeremy S. Boyd, Megan Core, Elizabeth K. Haro, Michael J. Mader, Sergio Pascual, Erin P. Finley, Brian P. Lucas, Angel Colon-Molero, Marcos I. Restrepo, Jacqueline Pugh, Nilam J. Soni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) use continues to increase in many specialties, but lack of POCUS training is a known barrier among practicing physicians. Many physicians are obtaining POCUS training through postgraduate courses, but the impact of these courses on skill retention and frequency of POCUS use post-course is unknown. The purpose of this study was to assess the change in POCUS knowledge, skills, and frequency of use after 6-9 months of participating in a brief training course. Methods: Course participants’ POCUS knowledge and hands-on technical skills were tested pre-course using an online, 30-question knowledge test and a directly observed skills test, respectively. The same knowledge and skills tests were repeated immediately post-course and after 6-9 months using remote tele-ultrasound software. Course participants completed a survey on their POCUS use pre-course and after 6-9 months post-course. Results: There were 127 providers who completed the POCUS training course from October 2016 to November 2017. Knowledge test scores increased from a median of 60% to 90% immediately post-course followed by a slight decrease to 87% after 8 months post-course. Median skills test scores for 4 common POCUS applications (heart, lung, abdomen, vascular access) increased 36-74 points from pre-course to immediately post-course with a 2–7-point decrease after 8 months. Providers reported more frequent POCUS use post-course, which suggests application of their POCUS knowledge and skills in clinical practice. More frequent use of cardiac POCUS applications was associated with significantly greater retention of cardiac skills at 8 months. Conclusions: Practicing physicians can retain POCUS knowledge and hands-on skills 8 months after participating in a 2.5-day POCUS training course, regardless of frequency of POCUS use post-course.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-399.e8
JournalAmerican Journal of Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Education
  • Point of care
  • Retention
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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