Introduction The 2010 British Thoracic Society guidelines strongly recommend the use of thoracic ultrasound for the investigation and management of pleural disease. Respiratory specialty trainees are expected to achieve level 1 competency in ultrasound by completion of training. There is a paucity of data on the current level of training, availability of teaching and achievement of competency in thoracic ultrasound. We conducted a national web-based survey among respiratory trainees to assess the current availability of training and competency in thoracic ultrasound.
Method A web-based survey was designed using the Kwik Surveys tool. The survey link was emailed to speciality trainees across all 16 deaneries in the UK. Data were collected on year of training, current placement, availability of ultrasound on the ward, dedicated training sessions and training mentors, current competency level, maintenance of a log book and the frequency of complications encountered despite using ultrasound.
Results A total of 170 trainees from all deaneries responded. The level of specialty training was equivalent when stratified by year of training and around half of responders were in teaching hospitals. Nearly three-quarters had access to ultrasound on the ward: there was no difference when stratified by teaching hospital. Three-quarters had attended an ultrasound course. Only 16% of trainees have regular dedicated training sessions, with significantly more in teaching hospitals (p=0.04). Nearly 60% did not have a training mentor. Overall 29% of responders have achieved level 1 competency but 11% stated they were unable to use ultrasound at all (there was no difference when stratified by grade). Over a third of trainees do not maintain a logbook. The complication rate despite using ultrasound was <10%.
Conclusions The majority of specialty trainees have access to ultrasound on the ward and have attended a thoracic ultrasound training course. However, it is concerning that very few trainees have a regular dedicated ultrasound training session or a training mentor. If all trainees are to achieve level one competency by the completion of specialty training, there needs to be more importance placed on practical training and the maintenance of a log book.
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