First-year medical students at Mount Sinai School of Medicine will be the first in New York to utilize to a digital-age ultrasound device that can visualize inside the body, and fit directly into the pockets of their brand new white coats.

      The visualization tool, made by GE Healthcare, is a handheld ultrasound device called Vscan, and is roughly the footprint of a smartphone. The Vscan houses innovative technology that can provide an immediate, non-invasive method to secure visual information from inside the body. A total of 72 pocket-sized devices will be provided for use in a research study and distributed to teams of first year medical school students that make up the 140-member Class of 2016. The objective of the study is to demonstrate that handheld imaging technology can contribute to medical education at all levels of instruction and learning.

      At the beginning of each academic year, first-year medical students at Mount Sinai School of Medicine participate in a medical school tradition that kicks off their medical caree – the White Coat Ceremony. After listening to inspirational speeches, students don their new white coats and receive a stethoscope at a special ceremony attended by family, friends, and faculty members. During this momentous day, students, parents, and faculty will also learn about the handheld ultrasound.

      “First year medical students traditionally learn about the human body by dissecting the cadavers and eventually by examining the patients, and the examination ranges from inspection and palpation to listening with the help of a stethoscope and interpreting the sounds of the heart, lungs and blood vessels,” says Jagat Narula, MD, PhD, principal investigator of this research study and the director of the cardiovascular imaging program at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “With handheld ultrasound, our medical students will have the ability to see live images of inside the body projected onto a handheld screen in real time. It’s an innovative educational concept that can modernize medical education.”

      In fact, Narula believes that imaging and specifically handheld devices will become an integral part of the physical examination.

      As part of the study, handheld ultrasound will be added to the curriculum of first year students during their Art and Science of Medicine (ASM) courses to augment their physical examination skills. Groups of four students will share the device as they learn about the capabilities of ultrasound.

      David Muller, MD, the dean of medical education at Mount Sinai School of Medicine says of the research study, “First year medical students will learn how to identify and assess the anatomical structures within cardiac, thoracic, and abdominal applications. We are excited to incorporate the portable ultrasound in our curriculum as we strive to revolutionize the way medicine is taught.”

      “Today, we are thrilled to play a part in this important research project by providing Mount Sinai’s first-year medical students with the power of portable ultrasound technology, as they take the first step towards becoming our next generation of doctors,” says Tom Gentile, president and CEO, GE Healthcare Systems. “Tools like Vscan have the ability to help transform the physical exam and today’s announcement reaffirms GE Healthcare’s commitment to research and improving patient care by helping enhance the physician’s ability to quickly and accurately diagnose patients.”

      Commercially launched in February 2010 by GE, this device offers applications in cardiology, emergency medicine, primary care and obstetrics applications. Through the study, as an educational tool at Mount Sinai, students will use hand-held ultrasound to examine the real-life anatomy and physiology of healthy subjects and then apply this base knowledge to their studies.

      “We expect that using handheld ultrasound will bring our students’ education to an innovative new level,” states Brett Nelson, MD, Associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Mount Sinai, who will be leading the new curriculum with Dr. Narula. “Having exposure to this ultrasound technology early in their medical education will provide our first-year students with skills that they will carry with them throughout their careers.”