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Exploring the ‘Wonders of Ultrasound’

Peter Huynh | New University
Peter Huynh | New University

In its second year, the Bedside Ultrasound Symposium Ultrafest opened its doors to medical students from all over California.

The UC Irvine Ultrasound Interest Group held its second annual Bedside Ultrasound Symposium Ultrafest on Saturday, Feb. 23, led by John Christian Fox, M.D., Director of Instructional Ultrasound at the UC Irvine School of Medicine.

In 2012, Kiah Bertoglio, a third-year medical student at the School of Medicine, approached Dr. Fox with the idea of creating a festival to expose medical students from all over California to the “wonders of ultrasound” that students at UCI had readily accessible to them, but other schools did not necessarily have.

In accordance with this vision, this year’s free symposium consisted of 14 different ultrasound workshops with both live and phantom  models, including cardiac, pulmonary, male genitourinary, female pelvis, musculoskeletal, obstetrics and pediatrics. There were also simulations and discussions on the future of ultrasound.

“Since we have all of this great ultrasound equipment, let’s put it all to work on the same day,” Dr. Fox said about the reasons for starting Ultrafest.

In Ultrafest 2012, over 200 medical students came to learn about ultrasound. This year, Ultrafest 2013 boasted over 300 participants. News of this year’s Ultrafest spread through word of mouth by medical students to schools such as Loma Linda University, UCLA, USC, UC San Diego and Western University.

Peter Huynh | New University
Peter Huynh | New University

In preparation for the new influx of medical students for the upcoming convention, many of whom had little to no prior experience with ultrasound, an iTunes podcast series with 23 different lectures and Dropbox were created for registered participants to preview the ultrasound workshop material.

“The main ingredient that makes UC Irvine Ultrasound work so well is the support from the medical leadership,” Dr. Fox said in reference to Ralph V. Clayman, M.D., dean of the UCI School of Medicine, who has been an instrumental figure in expanding the possibilities for the Ultrasound program, which sponsored Ultrafest. His belief in the future of ultrasound and the work of Dr. Fox resulted in Dr. Clayman providing the means for writing grants to hire ultrasound coordinators for the program.

Since then, the Ultrasound program has worked closely with the UniHealth Foundation, a private

nonprofit healthcare organization dedicated to facilitating the improvement of healthcare for individuals and the community.

The program was recently awarded a $100,000 grant toward international ultrasound, which was also the lecture topic for Ultrafest 2013.

The Ultrasound program at UC Irvine also collaborates with SonoSite Inc., which manufactures portable ultrasounds. SonoSite granted the UC Irvine School of Medicine exclusive rights to utilize their ultrasound technology in medical training.

Peter Huynh | New University
Peter Huynh | New University

With all of the outreach and collaborations that the Ultrasound program is fostering, Dr. Fox said he is focused on a greater goal. He successfully pioneered the Ultrasound Program at the UC Irvine School of Medicine almost three years ago, and his mission now is to promote the use of ultrasound within the medical community.

Dr. Fox stresses that ultrasound is the safest, cheapest and most easily transportable imaging modality currently available to modern medicine. And as the Director of Instructional Ultrasound, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine at the School of Medicine, as well as a physician in the emergency department at the UCI Medical Center, he believes he has the means and the opportunity to do so.

“If I can give medical students the confidence and curiosity to want to use ultrasound all the time, then I feel they will take better care of their patients, and will provide more accurate care without turning to radiation,” Dr. Fox said.