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[February 27,2009]

SUNY Downstate To Institute Ultrasound Training for All Medical Students:
A Marathon Training Session In Use of the ‘Stethoscope of the 21st Century’ 

In what will be a marathon training session – the first of its type – the entire fourth-year class of SUNY Downstate Medical Center's College of Medicine will be taught the use of portable ultrasound to guide invasive medical procedures on March 12 and 13. This represents the first time that all students graduating from an American medical school will be trained universally in this latest technological innovation. Portable or hand-carried ultrasound helps health care providers make accurate clinical decisions and perform medical procedures while minimizing errors, improving procedural success and maximizing patient comfort.
Physicians in many branches of medicine increasingly use ultrasound for a variety of procedures as a "locator" to guide a needle or probe. With portable ultrasound, fluid can be precisely located and drawn for testing, biopsies can be accurately guided, and cysts and abscesses can be drained, among other uses.
Michael B. Stone, MD, RDMS, director of the Ultrasound Division in the Department of Emergency Medicine, said, "Often referred to as the ‘stethoscope of the 21 century,’ portable ultrasound allows clinicians to develop a real-time visual understanding of a patient's physiologic or pathologic processes without requiring the use of ionizing radiation – associated with conventional X-ray and CT scans – or the transport of a patient to another area of the hospital. As portable ultrasound becomes ubiquitous in medicine, we must prepare our students for their future careers by introducing them to this technology at an early stage and ensuring that they are trained appropriately in its use."
When Downstate's fourth-year medical students are taught portable ultrasonography over the two-day period in March, they will be working on high-fidelity simulation tools. The students will be taught how to safely perform vascular access as well as paracentesis – the removal of fluid from the peritoneal cavity in the abdomen – and thoracentesis – the removal of fluid from the space between the lungs and chest wall.
This new fourth-year class initiative is the latest development in Downstate's Clinical Ultrasound Curriculum. Students are now exposed to ultrasound imaging during their first-year basic science education. Electives during the third and fourth years offer advanced training in ultrasound imaging techniques. All students will take the new fourth-year universal class, whether or not they have taken the elective courses, to ensure that all Downstate medical students graduate with the latest training in portable ultrasound.
“Physicians must be able to synthesize an ever increasing array of information and technology while continuing to focus on basic principles of the medical profession, including patient safety,” said Spencer G. Nabors, MD, MPH, MA, clinical assistant instructor in emergency medicine and Ultrasound Center coordinator. “Use of portable ultrasound takes the trial and error out of performing bedside clinical procedures,” he added, noting that the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality highlighted the use of real-time ultrasound guidance during central line insertion one of their top ten practices recommended for immediate impact and widespread implementation. 
“We hope to do more than simply heed those recommendations,” Dr. Nabors said. “With this new required course for all SUNY Downstate graduating students, we hope to create an army of advocates for clinical care with the strictest patient safety practices."
The fourth-year training class will be taught by Downstate College of Medicine faculty and assisted by representatives of SonoSite, Inc., the manufacturer of the portable ultrasound equipment.


SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient's bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, Colleges of Nursing and Health Related Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a Graduate Public Health Program, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and an Advanced Biotechnology Park and Biotechnology Incubator.
SUNY Downstate ranks ninth nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools.  More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school.