May 1, 2019

First-year College of Medicine Team Makes Top-10 in National Ultrasound Competition

By Amy Widner

Morgan D. Sweere, Hayden Scott and Mason Sifford competed in SonoSlam, hosted by the American Institute of Ultrasound Medicine and National Ultrasound Interest Group, on April 6 in Orlando, Florida.

It was the first time for a UAMS team to compete. They made it into the second round, beating 14 other groups to make it to the top 10.

“This is a great accomplishment,” said Kevin D. Phelan, Ph.D., co-director of the Division of Clinical Anatomy at UAMS. “These guys did really well for our first-ever team.”

Most of the other teams were made up of students in their third and fourth years of medical school, and the competition included more diagnosis than the freshmen have learned at this point in their training. However, they were able to hold their own because of their technical skills with ultrasound.

“There were some big schools, like Dartmouth and Yale, and most of the teams were fourth years who had already matched into residency. So for us to compete against them was kind of like — wait, are we supposed to be here?” Scott said. “But then we kept getting great feedback that we had some of the best technical skills of the competition. So that was really encouraging to know — yes, we do belong among this group of prestigious schools. It was nice to feel like we really were able to represent our program on a national scale.”

Medical students at UAMS use ultrasound in a longitudinal ultrasound curriculum to reinforce anatomy during the first two years of medical school.

As a result, the UAMS team discovered they are ahead of their peers when it comes to their ultrasound skills. Sweere and Sifford are both interested in emergency medicine, where ultrasound plays a big role.

“I think one of the coolest things was realizing that I’ll be able to use these skills I’m developing now every day in my future practice,” Sweere said. “I also feel like studying for the competition put us ahead in that we got to form relationships with the attending physicians and the residents here at UAMS. We even got to attend an ultrasound lecture that was intended for residents.”

Sifford agreed.

“We got to practice ultrasound in a way that showed us not only the importance of ultrasound in clinical medicine, but how much we’ve learned over the past year and how we’re able to apply all that knowledge together to show a full clinical picture and treat patients,” he said.

Scott said he left the experience feeling like UAMS medical students are on the cutting edge.

“I think among our generation of upcoming doctors, it will become more prevalent in a lot of different fields,” Scott said. “I think that’s a good thing. Ultrasound is applicable for pretty much any field if you expand your thinking a little bit and know enough to harness its potential.”

The team received funding from the College of Medicine and from the College of Medicine Parents Club to travel to the competition.