Background: Upper abdominal sonography can help physicians to confirm the diagnosis of various hepatobiliary diseases. Teaching sonography skills to medical students is important because it may enhance their level of knowledge and overall development during their gastroenterology section rotation. Sonographic imaging is abstract and students can be easily confused when scanning the abdominal structures from different sites and directions. We used several modern teaching strategies to facilitate the learning of sonography skills. Methods: The year five medical students beginning a gastroenterology section rotation for their first-year clerkship were taught abdominal sonography skills. Abstract sonographic images were related to concrete objects and the surrounding structures were further indicated. Each of the images was given a specific name and was sorted according to the scanning site. A mnemonics system was designed to help students to memorize the names of these images. A badge was created to recognize the achievement of being able to complete a basic upper abdominal sonography. Students were free (i.e., not obligated) to request a demonstration opportunity to show their skills within 2 weeks after receiving tutelage. We recorded the number of students who received training and were able to successfully complete the task; these individuals then received a badge to be pinned onto their white coats. Results: Sixty-three of 68 students (92.6%) requested evaluation and all of them passed. Conclusion: We have greatly simplified the process of learning about upper abdominal sonography by using andragogy to enhance learning, mnemonics to help memory, and a pin-badge reward system to stimulate incentives.
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