Mastering Ultrasound: A Journey Beyond the Classroom

Many thanks for the positive messages I got for my Christmas message, in which I talked about Grit and how important it is to have passion and perseverance. 

Dr. Thomas Binder in 2010.
March 2010, shooting the very first patient demonstrations for the EchoMasterclass.

What came up repeatedly was: How can I learn ultrasound effectively? Thinking back, I realize that my way of learning could have been better. It was not effective, especially at the beginning. I took several ultrasound courses, usually lasting 2-3 days, packed with information I was unprepared for. After 6 hours of PowerPoint slides, I was completely overwhelmed.

Image of hands on ultrasound training with Thomas Binder.
Hands on demonstration, during our 123sonography Live MasterClass in Vienna, September 2017

The hands-on sessions were usually short, and I hardly got to practice with five people at each scanner. The course material needed to be updated, and even though I took notes, I never looked at them again (nor would it have helped since I could decipher them anyway). I bought several textbooks, which I used as a reference, but I never went through them systematically. At that time, I was still a young resident and far away from being allowed to image patients. All I was allowed to do was observe. When I finally had the chance to image patients, I had forgotten what I had learned. Eventually, I learned echocardiography through my mentors, hard work, imaging 15-20 patients daily, and teaching others.

This experience was the reason I founded 123sonography. The name 123 was meant to represent the three pillars or principles for which the company stands:

  1. Self-paced learning (to avoid information overload).
  2. Engaging content (no boring PowerPoint presentations).
  3. Practical teaching (i.e., lots of cases and ultrasound examples).

Learning ultrasound should be as simple as 123! Of course, online teaching has changed dramatically since we launched the first version of our webpage. We can present the content more engagingly with the next revision at the beginning of next year. But still, the principles of learning have stayed the same.

Screenshot of the 123sonography website in 2009.
2009, our very first 123sonography webpage

But based on my experience, which advice could I give you?

1) If you embark on the journey to learn ultrasound, ensure you will also have the chance to apply what you have learned. Practice what you have learned; Learning a new skill without practicing it is like planting a seed but not watering it.

2) Use a multimodality approach to learning; use multiple resources, such as books, articles, hands-on sessions, online education, and personal communications. But choose wisely, don't overshoot, and prefer practical sessions and case-based learning. And just as important, choose the right teachers! Good teachers have expertise AND teaching skills. 

3) If you attend an ultrasound course. PREPARE before you go. The principle of blended learning is by far the most effective way of learning. Studies have shown that students acquired more knowledge, performed better on classroom tests, and engaged better. Here is a tip: Plan and schedule daily learning activities. Go slowly through the content, and allow yourself to repeat what you have learned.

Image of studio set-up in 2009.
March, 2010 Studio set-up

4) Leave your comfort zone. You will be confronted with difficult cases and situations requiring more experience. Take the initiative and raise your hand when taking on such cases. I learned the most from difficult situations where I had to look things up or ask others.

And finally, here is where the circle closes: 

5) Make sure to be "Gritty". Only with passion, perseverance, resilience, and conscientiousness will you reach the goal of becoming a true master of ultrasound.



Thomas Binder

PS: Do you want to become an ultrasound master of the future? Then make sure to check out our current offer – you can benefit from -30% off all courses and lifetime access! It's never too early to start learning ultrasound, so embark on your journey today! The offer is only available until December 31st, 2023.