Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) has been proven to increase user confidence, provide timelier diagnostic insights, and increase patient care.
This modality benefits healthcare professionals at all stages of their medical careers and enhances the diagnostic process across specialties. The integration of POCUS into academic programs has led to a growing number of healthcare experts adding it to their toolkits, which has a larger number of patients benefiting from the care they receive.
One community within medicine that has seen the academic and practical benefits of POCUS t is physician assistants (PA). In a recent FOCUS on POCUS™ podcast episode , Dr. Nicole Reichhart discussed the value of POCUS training for PAs.
An Assistant Professor and didactic faculty for the California State University, Monterey Bay Master of Science Physician Assistant program, Dr. Reichhart piloted a point-of-care ultrasound curriculum throughout the didactic phase of the MSPA program. With an extensive career, including nine years of clinical experience as a PA, Dr. Reichart has experienced the advantages the specialty gains from POCUS usage.
The impact of the care that PAs provide is heightened by the growth of POCUS in the discipline, starting with its integration into academic programs and expanding into post-graduation medical practice. One driving force of the inception of POCUS into the medical curriculum is the shared passion students and educators have for this innovative modality.
While integrating POCUS into the PA program was not accomplished without challenges, the benefits and opportunities it has created have been tremendous. Notably, the portability and functionality of POCUS enhance the university’s mission of providing healthcare to underserved populations.
According to Dr. Reichart, their POCUS curriculum has not only received high praise from students, but it has also left them expressing their desire for more opportunities to engage with this tool.
“It has really empowered them and increased their confidence in both their diagnostic and some of their procedural skills,” she said. The student’s enthusiasm for the modality shows in the level of skills they leave the program with, which have been applauded when they enter their clinical year.
Students in the Monterey Bay Master of Science Physician Assistant program are not alone in their desire to engage POCUS. A recent study found “only about 15% of students received any POCUS exposure in PA school, but 94% of them said they wanted it in their education.”
Following the opportunity to develop their POCUS foundation in the academic setting, physician assistants have successfully applied it in the medical field. POCUS has proven beneficial to PAs across focuses whether they practice emergency medicine, rheumatology, or another focus area.
The author of an editorial published in the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants encourages the use of POCUS for PAs because “it offers a marriage of technology and medicine.” As a result, healthcare professionals can confidently embrace its innovative nature while continuing to provide high-quality care.
This cycle of physician assistants learning and utilizing POCUS improves care on a global scale. To help support this pattern and encourage further growth, the Point-of-Care Ultrasound Certification Academy™ provides resources, certification opportunities, and a community of medical professionals. Through everything they offer, they aim to “empower physician assistants to get the best possible outcomes in their patient-centric organizations”—a goal that resonates with healthcare professionals and patients alike.
The PA community has always provided essential, exceptional care. With an increasing number of educators and professionals supporting upcoming physician assistants in their POCUS training, this domino of events and the dedicated individuals within the specialty will ensure that this care continues. For more insights into the drive for POCUS training for physician assistants, listen to Dr. Reichart’s full podcast episode.
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