Independent learning of the sonographic FAST exam technique using a tablet-based training module




global ultrasound training, digital ultrasound training, FAST exam training, rural and disaster ultrasound


Objective: The aim of this study is to determine if a specific tablet-based training module can be used as an effective tool for independently training novice sonographers in the components of the focused assessment for sonography in trauma (FAST) exam.

Design: Participants attended a 15-minute orientation presentation followed by a 2-hour ultrasound scanning workshop where they used a novel tablet-based training module to learn the components of the FAST exam independently.

Setting: This study took place at an accredited United States college of osteopathic medicine.

Participants: Thirty-two first-year medical student volunteers without any prior ultrasound training in abdominal scanning.

Interventions: Training activities included brief didactic training and participation in an independent learning FAST exam workshop.

Main outcome measures: Participants filled out subjective pre- and post-training self-confidence questionnaires and were objectively assessed and scored on their scanning skills.

Results: Comparison of the pre- and post-training subjective questionnaires showed a statistically significant (p < 0.001) increase in participant confidence in performing all components of the FAST exam. During skill evaluation, participants collectively demonstrated correct technique in 366 (82 percent) of the 448 total FAST exam scanning tasks they attempted.

Conclusions: Based on these findings, the authors believe that learning to perform the FAST exam with this digital training module is an effective means of independently acquiring ultrasound skill. Digital ultrasound training modules like this one could have several useful applications, such as serving as an educational resource, or functioning as a point-of- care scanning adjunct to medical professionals in underdeveloped and rural areas where formal ultrasound training is not available.

Author Biographies

Rachel M. Leavitt, DO

Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine–Southern Utah, Ivins, Utah

Patrick A. Arpin, DO

Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine–Southern Utah, Ivins, Utah

Brandon M. Nielsen, DO

Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine–Southern Utah, Ivins, Utah.

Nena Lundgreen Mason, PhD

Associate Professor, Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine–Southern Utah, Ivins, Utah


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How to Cite

Leavitt, DO, R. M., P. A. Arpin, DO, B. M. Nielsen, DO, and N. Lundgreen Mason, PhD. “Independent Learning of the Sonographic FAST Exam Technique Using a Tablet-Based Training Module”. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, vol. 16, no. 2, Aug. 2021, pp. 95-104, doi:10.5055/ajdm.2021.0392.