Challenges and Variations in Emergency Medicine Residency Training of Ultrasound-guided Regional Anesthesia Techniques

Casey Lee Wilson, Kevin Chung, Tiffany Fong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Ultrasound guidance has become an integral component to procedural and diagnostic practice for the emergency physician. Whereas landmark-guided methods were used for peripheral nerve blocks in the past, the use of ultrasound has made regional anesthesia procedures faster, more successful, and feasible as a pain management modality in the emergency department. Not only the utilization, but also the teaching of ultrasound has become an essential aspect of emergency medicine residency training. Prior studies have found a substantial variation in practice and policies with regard to ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia (UGRA) and this translates to the education of both residents and fellows. Objectives: The objective was to describe the current state of UGRA education, trends, and barriers in emergency medicine residency and ultrasound fellowship programs in the United States. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted via the Internet utilizing the Qualtrics software platform. It was distributed to ultrasound directors and program directors of both Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and American Osteopathic Association (AOA) accredited emergency medicine residency programs and ultrasound fellowships. Data analysis, cross-tabulation, and subgroup analysis were performed utilizing the software. Results: We received a total of 138 responses (response rate of 66.3%). There was substantial variability with regard to implementing UGRA education. Additionally, there was a trend correlating a greater likelihood of UGRA education among programs with more than two ultrasound faculty members. Faculty training is considered to be the greatest barrier to teaching UGRA to residents and fellows. Conclusion: Resident and fellow education with regard to UGRA varies significantly among individual programs. Although there are currently no ACGME or AOA guidelines, nearly all residency programs believe that this is a skill that emergency physicians should learn. With the identification of key barriers and the need for an increased number of trained faculty, pain management utilizing UGRA may become an integral part to emergency medicine resident and fellow education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-164
Number of pages7
JournalAEM Education and Training
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Education
  • Emergency


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