Friday, and for the 10th consecutive year, the Wayne State University School of Medicine's first-year medical students were introduced to ultrasound technology only two weeks into their medical education, using portable machines smaller than a laptop.
A forward-thinking School of Medicine was one of only two medical schools in the United States to formally add ultrasound to its undergraduate medical education a decade ago, and remains the only medical school in Michigan that has successfully implemented a four-year longitudinal curriculum.
"It gives us more insight into what we want to do, which is to be doctors," said the Class of 2020's Urvashi Katiyar, who welcomed a break from reading textbooks and streaming lectures.
"It keeps me excited about school," she said.
Assistant Clinical Professor David Amponsah, M.D., introduced the entire Class of 2020 to the imaging capabilities of point-of-care ultrasound and provided an overview of the four-year curriculum before leading one of more than 20 small-group, hands-on demonstrations in the school's M.D. laboratories.
The demonstrations, led by volunteer residents and physicians from area hospitals, oriented the students to the machines' various knobs and dials and basic imaging techniques, including how to hold the ultrasound wand. Students then had opportunities to use the devices on each other or themselves, scanning carotid arteries, hands, wrists and more.
"There are a number of medical schools in the nation in the very beginning stages of implementing a four-year ultrasound longitudinal curriculum," Dr. Amponsah said. "There are probably about a dozen schools that have successfully developed an undergraduate ultrasound curriculum."
The early training allows students to study the body on a living being throughout their four years of schooling, often giving them an edge on peers after graduation.
"This is pretty cool. I understand it a lot more now than I did an hour ago," said medical student Ali Jawad. "This is what I find really interesting, personally, because I want to go into imaging, I think."
Dr. Amponsah and fellow Friday lecturer J. Antonio Bouffard, M.D., were part of a core group of five WSU faculty physicians who helped launch the pioneering program in 2006, led by Professor of Surgery and of Molecular Biology and Genetics Scott Dulchavsky, M.D., Ph.D. '83.
"I'm now seeing the fruits of our labors. I now have residents in Orthopaedics who were Wayne State University medical students. And I can see the results," said Dr. Bouffard, a radiologist specializing in Sports Medicine Ultrasound at DMC Sports Medicine in Farmington Hills.