How Can I Learn POCUS?

How Can I Learn POCUS?

Learning to use point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) allows medical staff to provide better quality of care to their patients. There are several options for training or certification in POCUS that a medical provider could get to be able to use this technology accurately and appropriately on patients. A POCUS department within each facility will likely be tasked with helping staff become credentialed with the best course for their needs.

What Is a POCUS Exam and Is POCUS Useful?

A POCUS procedure is carrying out a scan with the portable ultrasound device in order to diagnose a patient or guide therapeutic treatment in real time. One of the main point-of-care ultrasound benefits over more traditional, stationary ultrasound technology is that this procedure can be done at the patient’s bedside, instead of needing to move them to a different department or facility. This means a POCUS procedure could be deemed necessary, performed, documented, and the results shared with the patient within a half-hour, rather than over several hours or even days.

What Is a POCUS Training Program?

A POCUS training program is a course or set of educational materials that enables medical practitioners to effectively use POCUS for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. POCUS offers powerful benefits, but only if used by a skilled practitioner who has the ability to use this tool correctly. The Society of Point of Care Ultrasound (SPOCUS) is an organization dedicated to promoting POCUS use via education, advocacy, and collaboration. They discuss several pathways for providing this important programming.

The SPOCUS Practice Guidelines lay out a two-phased approach which includes:
1. Introductory Training - Practitioners learn the basics of when and how to use POCUS, either integrated as part of their medical schooling, postgraduate work, or continuing education.
2. Proctored Scanning - After completing phase one, practitioners need to hone their skills with image reviews, simulations, and supervised live scanning. Their performance must be assessed and scans logged to show they are ready to use POCUS technology on patients.

There are two main types of training that medical providers who use POCUS currently rely on, each of which is compatible with the SPOCUS guidelines. These are:
1. Third Party Certification - An external body provides the educational material and testing needed to competently use POCUS technology, often for a fee.
2. Local Verification of Skills - A local provider, usually the medical facility employing the POCUS student, provides training and on-the-job testing for competency.

There are pros and cons of both these program types.

Third-Party POCUS Ultrasound Course


  • Ensures more standardized training across all healthcare providers
  • Makes it easy to communicate and validate your POCUS expertise to patients and other staff
  • Aims to enhance patient care and safety


  • No strong evidence that this certification improves patient care or safety
  • Specific certifications not required for other clinical skills
  • Costly and time-consuming certification and renewals

Local Verification of Skills


  • Teaches and assesses POCUS competence in real-world conditions
  • Can provide workplace-specific training for easier POCUS integration
  • Doesn’t require long or expensive testing


  • Harder to demonstrate POCUS skill when transferring jobs
  • More opportunity for substandard training
  • Potentially more burden placed on medical facilities to provide appropriate training

Since a third-party POCUS certification course is available for everyone and not linked to a specific workplace, we will be focusing on this type of program when we look at specifics of learning POCUS for the rest of this article. Local verification programs will provide similar training.

How to Learn POCUS

A point-of-care ultrasound course should focus on four main areas that a clinician needs to master before using POCUS for patient care. These are:
1. Knowing when to use POCUS
POCUS has the ability to aid in the diagnosis of a wide variety of conditions, so an important part of POCUS training involves knowing when to use this tool. Each medical facility will have their own set of best practices for portable ultrasound use, but here are a few common use cases often seen in the emergency department.
- With unexplained abdominal pain, POCUS can help diagnose gallstones, kidney stones, or bowel obstruction.

  • In the case of a patient with chest pain, POCUS can show tension pneumothorax, pleural effusion, or pericardial fluid.
    2. Acquiring the ultrasound image
    Performing the actual scan using a POCUS device is a technical skill that takes time and training to perfect. Although POCUS scans are fairly straightforward to perform, making sure to scan the appropriate area at the correct speed and depth to get a clear image needs to be practiced under the supervision of an experienced instructor.
    3. Interpreting the image
    Once a clear image has been generated, medical professionals need the skills to quickly and accurately interpret what was imaged. Training and education will be needed to ensure practitioners can easily recognize normal results or identify a pathology or abnormality.
    4. Making medical decisions based on the image
    Once an accurate interpretation of POCUS has been established, a clinician needs to make a decision on medically indicated next steps. If a condition is diagnosed using POCUS, standard protocols for treating that condition need to be started. If no abnormalities are detected, then continued testing to find the source of the problem will be needed.

Some programs will focus on using POCUS for specific conditions. For instance, POCUS 101 offers training specifically for performing:

  • Cardiac Ultrasound – Appropriate for hemodynamic changes, pathological heart conditions, and cardiac output.
  • Abdominal Ultrasound – Appropriate for appendicitis, gallstones, adnominal aortic aneurysms, and kidney stones.
  • Lung Ultrasound - Appropriate for pneumothorax, pneumonia, and tension pneumothorax.
  • OB Ultrasound - Appropriate for gestational age, ectopic pregnancy, and fetal cardiac activity.

Other programs may be tailored more to specific applications or departments. For instance, a critical care ultrasound course might provide advanced training on using this technology on the sickest patients with multiple conditions that are likely to be encountered by staff in the ICU. Similarly, an emergency medicine POCUS certification would focus more on when and how to use ultrasound to diagnose unknown conditions quickly.

Can I Learn Ultrasound Online?

Yes, there are many options for point-of-care ultrasound training online. Some offer accreditations which are widely recognized, and some qualify as continuing medical education (CME) credits which many governing bodies and hospitals require annually. Here are a few of the options.

  • The POCUS Certification Academy Started by Inteleos, who has provided respected ultrasound credentials to medical providers for over 40 years.
  • American College of Physicians Seeing the importance of POCUS in diagnostics and internal medicine, ACP offers online learning activities, live virtual courses, and webinars.
  • Society of Hospital Medicine SHM offers a full POCUS course that involves finishing online learning modules, attending an accredited regional POCUS course, and completing an online portfolio.
  • American Society of Anesthesiologists The ASA created an accredited POCUS course specifically for diagnostics in anesthesiology that can be completed online.
  • MedMastery Offers a range of CME credit courses, including POCUS Essentials and POCUS Masterclass.

Exo: Making POCUS Work Better

The advances in medical ultrasound since its invention in the 1950’s are astounding. This technology has revolutionized our ability to see inside a person to better understand what’s wrong in a way that was unimaginable before. At Exo, we see the future of POCUS technology where this lifesaving equipment is in the pocket of every medical practitioner who could use it to help their patients.

Not only does this future need POCUS devices in the hands of trained staff to make the biggest difference in patient care, it also needs a workflow that makes performing and using these scans as easy as pulling out a stethoscope or using a thermometer.

That’s where Exo Works™ comes in. We designed a platform to simplify and streamline POCUS. This way, care providers can use their time and energy serving patients instead of navigating complex scheduling and documentation procedures.

Our platform gives medical professionals a POCUS workflow that is secure, cloud-based, and mobile-first. It breaks down scans into four straightforward steps:
1. Use any DICOM-enabled ultrasound to scan the patient.
2. Document and review the findings in seconds.
3. Code, bill, and securely send scans to EMR and PACS.
4. Access and share results with other providers safely and remotely.

We designed our innovatively simple platform to work better for patients, healthcare providers, medical facilities, and compliance regulations. With Exo Works, POCUS can continue to improve the patient experience with better quality, visibility, and reporting. When you’re ready to take your care to the next level, get in touch for more information on what we can do for you.