- College of Medicine Student Affairs Students
Second-year medical students at the College of Medicine are making room in their little black bags for the “stethoscope of the future” – ultrasound technology.
For the first time in the Practice of Medicine-2 module, students recently trained to use ultrasound machines during thyroid exams. That prepares them for a medical world where the role of ultrasound has grown beyond traditional specialties such as obstetrics, said Dr. Caridad Hernandez, associate professor of internal medicine.
“Technology engages and motivates the students to learn,” said Dr. Hernandez.
Not only does ultrasound provide a richer learning experience, it also could improve patient care at bedside. For example, with today’s faster, more portable systems, a doctor can quickly perform an ultrasound and diagnose a patient’s abdominal pain as an aortic disorder — without losing critical seconds by sending the patient to another floor for the procedure. Or a doctor in a remote jungle clinic could use a handheld scanner to check the health of a patient’s lungs.
As groups of three to four students gathered in the Clinical Skills and Simulation Center August 21, faculty instructors demonstrated how to use sight and touch to check a standardized patient’s thyroid. Each student t repeated the exam before moving on to the ultrasound portion.
They carefully applied gel to a patient’s neck, then traced the area with a wand that sent sound waves through the skin. A computer recorded the pattern created as sound waves bounced off the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland that sits along the front of the windpipe. Thyroid hormones affect metabolism, growth and development, and body temperature.
“It’s a good way for us to study anatomy,” said second-year student Osama Antar. “It helps us connect to what we learn in textbooks.”
After one session, said Dr. Hernandez, some students were so excited about what they had just learned that they lingered in the hallway and examined each other’s thyroid glands.
The ultrasound training is a big step forward, said Dr. Alfredo Tirado, a College of Medicine’s volunteer faculty member, ultrasound program director for the Emergency Medicine Residency Program and assistant medical director for Florida Hospital East Orlando.
“When we did anatomy when I was in medical school, you couldn’t always see what you were feeling,” he said. “This is better.”
However, the hands-on checkup will remain part of standard procedure.
“We don’t want technology to replace physical exams,” Dr. Hernandez said. “It’s meant to enhance them.”.