Teaching medical students ultrasound-guided vascular access - which learning method is best?



Ultrasound is recommended to guide insertion of peripheral intravenous vascular cannulae (PIVC) where difficulty is experienced. Ultrasound machines are now common-place and junior doctors are often expected to be able to use them. The educational standards for this skill are highly varied, ranging from no education, to self-guided internet-based education, to formal, face-to-face traditional education. In an attempt to decide which educational technique our institution should introduce, a small pilot trial comparing educational techniques was designed.


Thirty medical students were enrolled and allocated to one of three groups. PIVC placing ability was then observed, tested and graded on vascular access phantoms.


The formal, face-to-face traditional education was rated best by the students, and had the highest success rate in PIVC placement, the improvement statistically significant compared to no education (p = 0.01) and trending towards significance when compared to self-directed internet-based education (p<0.06).


The group receiving traditional face-to-face teaching on ultrasound-guided vascular access, performed significantly better than those not receiving education. As the number of ultrasound machines in clinical areas increases, it is important that education programs to support their safe and appropriate use are developed.

J Vasc Access 2017; 18(3): 255 - 258




Alwin Lian, James C.R. Rippey, Peter J. Carr

Article History


Financial support: No grants or funding have been received for this study.
Conflict of interest: None of the authors has financial interest related to this study to disclose.

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  •  Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, WA - Australia
  •  Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Perth, WA - Australia
  •  Emergency Medicine, School of Primary, Aboriginal and Rural Health Care, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA - Australia
  •  Alliance for Vascular Access Teaching and Research (AVATAR) Group, Griffith University, Queensland - Australia

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