This study aimed to evaluate the practicality of using the simulator (ScanTrainer) as a learning tool for transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) practice, considering both the advantages and the limitations of the simulator based on users' perspectives.
An online questionnaire was sent to MSc ultrasound students (n = 61) at University College Dublin, Republic of Ireland, between 2017 and 2019. The students were instructed to take practice modules on the ScanTrainer as part of the program and their views on the simulator as a learning tool were collected at the end of the program.
45 students (74%) responded to the questionnaire. Most respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statements that the ScanTrainer improves understanding of the relevant anatomical findings (71%, n = 32), the pathological findings (71%, n = 32) and the modules' materials (67%, n = 30). 60% (n = 27) agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that the simulator increases their confidence in their TVUS skills. The demographic analysis showed that the respondents who preferred to practise simulation training before performing scans on patients were significantly younger than those who did not (medians: 28.5 vs. 34, respectively; p = 0.003). However, several limitations with simulation practice were reported by the respondents, including the lack of opportunity to develop communication skills, the lack of informative feedback and the sensitivity of the simulator probe which provided an unrealistic response when further hand pressure was applied.
Positive views were reported on the practicality of the simulator in assisting in TVUS practice, including learning anatomical and pathological findings and therefore increasing scanning confidence. Incorporating simulator practice with an ultrasound curriculum could be a useful practice as the experience was mostly appreciated by novice practitioners. However, the simulator requires further developments in minimising the sensitivity of the TV probe and providing additional constructive feedback to the user.