Twelve months ago, point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) was an ill-defined concept for the majority of medical students at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.  It was a chance exposure to bedside ultrasound that inspired a group of students to team up with local champions to formally launch a POCUS interest group in September 2012.  The success of the interest group, which recruited 109 medical students to its ranks in its inaugural year, spawned the idea of a national medical student conference on POCUS.  Flash forward to the present, and the first Western Medical Student Ultrasound Symposium is now in the books. 

Several months in the making, this initiative represents a remarkable partnership between medical students, residents and faculty from a wide range of clinical departments and divisions at Western University and the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.  The Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics (CSTAR) facility and staff were extraordinary hosts for the August 24 and 25 weekend event.  The Hippocratic Council at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry and the Canadian Federation of Medical Students are to be graciously acknowledged for providing financial support.  SonoSite Canada, Philips Canada, General Electric Canada and Siemens Canada are valued corporate partners through their generous donation of ultrasound equipment for the two-day symposium.  We are grateful to Matt Dawson and Mike Mallin of the Ultrasound Podcast for recording a memorable episode of the podcast specially for the symposium and also for providing participants with the iBook version of Introduction to Bedside Ultrasound.  Many thanks are also in order for the dedicated group of volunteers who acted as standardized patients throughout the weekend.  Lastly, we want to recognize the passionate group of forward-thinking medical students from across Ontario who dedicated a summer weekend to participate in this innovative educational experience.

Feedback from participants, instructors and organizers alike tout the symposium as a resounding success.  Beginning with Dr. Robert Arntfield’s outstanding keynote address and ending with a fierce battle for the Sono Cup (congrats to Team 5!), the symposium represented an informative and engaging educational event that has established a versatile foundation for students to build on in future training.  Much data was collected over the weekend by event organizers, the results of which will be revealed in a formal study in the near future.  Nonetheless, it is already apparent that participants overwhelmingly hold the view that POCUS is a motivating educational tool that compliments and enhances formal training in anatomy, physiology and clinical medicine.  Organizers and instructors alike were impressed by the enthusiasm maintained by participants over the course of two eight-hour days of education, whose eyes repeatedly lit up as they witnessed anatomy and physiology come to life on the ultrasound screen.

Many professional relationships were established among participants, who are well-positioned to become POCUS student leaders at their home institutions.  The local POCUS interest group at Western University looks forward to collaborating with students from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, the University of Ottawa, Queen’s University and McMaster University who are looking to establish similar groups at their institutions.  We hope the energy generated by the symposium persists well into the future. The planning committee is already looking forward to making this an annual event.

Below are some photos from the weekend.  In addition, the following are the members of the medical student planning committee and the various instructors who supported the event.  Thanks again for your help!

Medical Student Planning Committee: Chris Byrne (Meds 2014), Mike Clemente (Meds 2015), David Mainprize (Meds 2015), Ryan McLarty (Meds 2015), Nick Packer (Meds 2015), Sofia Nastis (Meds 2015), Weiang Yan (Meds 2015), Evan Ailon (Meds 2016), Josh Burley (Meds 2016), David Linton (Meds 2016), Angie Smith (Meds 2016)

Faculty & Resident Instructors: Robert Arntfield, Drew Thompson, Su Ganapathy, Ramiro Arellano, Dave Ouellette, Derrick Pringle, Heather Hames, Alberto Goffi, Jonathan Brookes, Raymond Kao, Ceara McNeil, Samir Raza, Kirstin Weerdenburg, Kate Hayman, Chris Lee, Matthew Slessarev, Rakesh Sondekoppam, Vishal Uppal, Brad Moffat, Pat Murphy