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SkillsLab Ultrasound: expanding ultrasound teaching with "peer-teaching"

(Vienna, 05 February 2015) "Sono4You" is an initiative run by students for students and it was founded in 2007 by Peter Pokieser (Unified Patient Division of the MedUni Vienna) in collaboration with students from the MedUni Vienna. The aim of the initiative is to teach skills when carrying out ultrasound investigations. This harmless method, which uses no radiation, allows many conditions and their symptoms to be investigated inexpensively and with low risk. Results can be reported quickly, however the safe and correct handling of the examination requires a lot of practical experience.

In October 2014, a pilot project was set up between the Department of Medical Advanced and Further Training at the MedUni Vienna, headed up since last August by Anita Holzinger, and the Sono4You initiative, aimed at establishing an internationally competitive ultrasound skills lab. "It is very important to me and my team to enable students to acquire principles-based clinical skills and abilities at an early stage," says Holzinger.

As part of this project, ultrasound activities have been offered since October 2014 for the first time as a permanent part of the curriculum in the MedUni Vienna's newly-built facilities on Sensengasse (1090 Vienna). So far, 61 practical courses - comprising three modules - have been carried out by 45 ultrasound tutors working on an honorary basis in the areas of the abdomen, FAST/E-FAST (ultrasound diagnosis of bleeding and organ injuries), echocardiography, head & neck and musculoskeletal ultrasound. "At peak times, the machines were in use eight hours a day. All in all, 366 hours of ultrasound have been taught over the last three months," says Holzinger. "In future, the ultrasound skills lab will be used to expand ultrasound teaching, but also provide interdisciplinary services to the MedUni Vienna."

The aim is to optimise and embed three major areas of ultrasound at the Medical University of Vienna:

  • The mandatory ultrasound course (ultrasound basics course, 7th semester)
  • Practical weeks for structured verification as part of the OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination / 8th semester)
  • Voluntary practical sessions on a variety of topics (Sono4You)


About Sono4You
The idea behind it is "peer teaching”, in which students help students to expand their understanding of a topic, in this case ultrasound, themselves. Since March 2010, Alexander Sachs has been the student head of the project. In March 2011, MedUni Vienna student Sachs received a best student presentation award at the European Congress of Radiology (ECR) for the "Sono4You" project. Echocardiography and musculoskeletal ultrasound have also become part of the project in the meantime. Sono4You is an initiative that is also active at the Medical Universities of Graz and Innsbruck ( International activities have comprised student programmes at the European Congress of Radiology in Vienna since 2012, at the German and Austrian Congress since 2014 and at the Tri-Nation Meeting of Austria, Switzerland and Germany since 2014.

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