Ultrasound Student Elective


The Ultrasound Elective is designed to provide a wider range of exposure to ultrasound that will complement the required, foundational ultrasound curriculum in the MS1 and MS2 years. Our goal is to improve the students skills of image acquisition and interpretation with hands-on practice and professional guidance in small group sessions led by skilled instructors.

FAST Exam workshop
FAST Exam workshop


USIG VP’s of Education

Course Objectives:

By the end of the course students will be able to:

  • Understand the utility of ultrasound in multiple medical specialties
  • Independently acquire images for all organs routinely imaged by ultrasound
  • Identify and interpret common pathologies presented in focused sessions
  • Teach and guide other peers in acquiring and interpreting images

In order to keep the groups for hands-on sessions as small as possible so that students have more “stick-time” rather than waiting around to practice scanning, the elective is always capped at 40 students. Small group sizes should be about 4-5 students max in order to get the most out of the session.

Just as a reminder, the elective is designed to complement and enhance the baseline ultrasound education that all the students get in their first and second years. We try to cover topics that will expand on their current ultrasound knowledge and at the same time introduce clinical applications of ultrasound that they may have not been aware of.

Curriculum (6 sessions Total):

  1. FAST scan
  2. Cardiovascular ultrasound (5 views: PSS, PSL, Apical 4, Apical 5, Subxiphoid)
  3. Critical care Ultrasound
  4. OB/Gyn Ultrasound
  5. Vascular Ultrasound and guided procedures
  6. Make-up session

Format : 

Total of 6 sessions throughout the year. In order to receive credit for the elective, students must attend 4 out of 6 sessions. Elective usually runs from 5:30pm-8pm with the following schedule:

  • 530-6 pm: Dinner (optional)
  • 6pm- 6:30 pm: Guest lecturer focuses on clinical applications of that session’s theme/focus
  • 6:30- 8 pm: Break out into groups for hands-on sessions (Usually 30 minutes per session with the students rotating twice for a total of three 30 minute hands-on sessions. We do this to ensure each student gets a chance to scan different people since anatomical variation is certainly seen in real practice!)


Interested in starting an ultrasound student elective at your institution? Feel free to contact USIG board members for more information. Here are some logistical pearls from our VP’s of Education: 

–       Lecturer– we try to recruit UCI faculty to come lecture and sometimes we get faculty from nearby schools like UCLA and Loma Linda. Historically, the first session (FAST scan) has always been taught by MS2s since it’s fairly easy to explain and indications for FAST scan are more straightforward than the other topics.

–       Tutors/Models– we are fortunate enough to have experienced MS2s to help tutor the hands-on sessions. Depending on the focus of the session, we recruit UCI residents to assist especially for Pediatric and OB/GYN sessions. As for models, most of them are actually MS1s who were on the wait list for the elective. This was a brilliant idea because the models learned just as much as the students in the elective and we usually had enough time to let them scan as well. For the pediatric and OB/GYN models, we had to ask around and plan those sessions way in advance.

–       Groups- total of 8 groups, 4-5 students per group, 25-30 minutes per rotation for a total of three 30 minute sessions per elective. This gave the students the opportunity to learn from more instructors and scan different bodies.

–        Machines– 10 machines (2 extra in case one malfunctioned) either Sfast or Nanomaxx depending on what we have available. Our clinical skills center is on the second floor of our medical education building, which is where we hold all of the elective sessions so its quite easy to transport the machines and supplies.

–       Other supplies– towels, mattresses (optional) for models, gel

–       Rooms – We reserve a lecture hall and 8 rooms that are all adjacent to each other so that the rotation from room to room is seamless and time is not wasted. We know how busy medical students are so we try to keep lectures interesting and succinct and the stick-time sessions as “hands-on” as possible.

–       Budget: $750-800 for Food only. We are fortunate enough to have physicians and medical students who are so enthusiastic about ultrasound and teaching that they are willing to do this for free. In addition, we have an ample supply of ultrasound machines and a clinical skills center and staff who are willing to lend us whatever we need to make this elective happen

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