Thursday, July 2, 2015

General Pediatric Sonography Curriculum: Pediatric Sonographer Needs Assessment

Lindsey Robinson, MEd
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Published: Journal of Diagnostic Medical Sonography January/February 2016 32: 1-9, first published on November 25, 2015 doi:10.1177/8756479315618210

Background: Gaining insights into exactly what sonographers have learned both through formal and informal training and education has helped determine the gaps in current training and education in general pediatric sonography.

Objective: To determine whether a dedicated general pediatric sonography course would benefit students if incorporated into accredited diagnostic medical sonography (DMS) curriculum.

Methods: A mixed methods research study was conducted to survey practicing sonographers at a large children’s hospital to gain insight as to what topics and techniques would be required to better prepare sonography students in general pediatric sonography. The online needs assessment survey was developed de novo and implemented through an email invite to pediatric sonographers. To enhance the understanding of the need for a dedicated pediatric US curriculum two focus group discussions of practicing general pediatric sonographers were conducted.

Results: Twenty-two of twenty-eight (79%) US technologists participated in the online survey. Competency/skill and knowledge levels were assessed showing a vast difference following graduation versus current competency and knowledge levels. After graduation or cross training technologists were “minimally skilled” in completing an appendix/RLQ (45.5%), hip (DDH) (40.9%), head (36.4%), pylorus (HPS) (36.4%) US exam and “competent” in completing a pediatric abdominal (50%), renal (45.5%) and pylorus (HPS) (36.4%) US exam (Figure 6). Currently sonographers were “experts” in pediatric pylorus (HPS) 77.3%, renal (72.7%), abdominal (72.7%), head (68.2%), appendix/RLQ (63.6%), and hip (DDH) (63.6%) US exams and “highly experienced” with pediatric appendix/RLQ (27.3%) US exam (Figure 7).
After graduation/cross training technologists were “minimally knowledgeable” in pediatric liver, gallbladder, and biliary tract (54.5%), gastrointestinal (45.5%), renal (45.5%), hip/spine (40.9%) disease processes and were “novice” in Neurosonography (36.4%), and hip/spine (36.4%) pediatric diseases processes (Figure 8). Currently sonographers were “experts” in pediatric liver, gallbladder, and biliary tract (68.2%), renal (68.2%), hip/spine (54.5%), gastrointestinal (50%), Neurosonography (50%) pediatric diseases processes and “highly knowledgeable” in pediatric hip/spine (36.4%), and gastrointestinal (31.8%) disease processes (Figure 9).
The focus group interviews were successful with multiple themes drawn from the discussions and an overarching theory. Grounded theory was used to evaluate the focus group results. The theory concluded that a curriculum would help to create better trained and knowledgeable sonographers right out of school, and thus minimize gaps that will occur due to lesser experience of those at non-pediatric facilities, and thus children will receive better ultrasound care.

Conclusion: Practicing pediatric sonographers recommend the development of a general pediatric sonography course in DMS curriculum to enhance competency, knowledge, and attitudes of future pediatric sonographers.