Use of a simulation-based mastery learning curriculum to improve ultrasound-guided vascular access skills of pediatric anesthesiologists

Heather A. Ballard*, Michelle Tsao, Alison Robles, Mitch Phillips, John Hajduk, Joseph Feinglass, Jeffrey H Barsuk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Pediatric vascular access is inherently challenging due to the small caliber of children's vessels. Ultrasound-guided intravenous catheter insertion has been shown to increase success rates and decrease time to cannulation in patients with difficult intravenous access. Although proficiency in ultrasound-guided intravenous catheter insertion is a critical skill in pediatric anesthesia, there are no published competency-based training curricula. Aims: The objective of this study was to evaluate the performance of pediatric anesthesiologists who participated in a novel ultrasound-guided intravenous catheter insertion simulation-based mastery learning curriculum. Methods: Pediatric anesthesia attendings, fellows, and rotating residents participated in the ultrasound-guided intravenous catheter insertion simulation-based mastery learning curriculum from August 2019 to February 2020. The 2-hour curriculum consisted of participants first undergoing a simulated skills pretest followed by watching a video on ultrasound-guided intravenous catheter insertion and deliberate practice on a simulator. Subsequently, all participants took a post-test and were required to meet or exceed a minimum passing standard. Those who were unable to meet the minimum passing standard participated in further practice until they could be retested and met this standard. We compared pre to post-test ultrasound-guided intravenous catheter insertion skills and self-confidence before and after participation in the curriculum. Results: Twenty-six pediatric anesthesia attendings, 12 fellows, and 38 residents participated in the curriculum. At pretest, 16/76 (21%) participants were able to meet or exceed the minimum passing standard. The median score on the pretest was 21/25 skills checklist items correct and improved to 24/25 at post-test (95% CI 3.0-4.0, P <.01). Self-confidence significantly improved after the course from an average of 3.2 before the course to a postcourse score of 3.9 (95% CI 0.5-0.9, P <.01; 1 = Not all confident, 5 = Very confident). Conclusions: Simulation-based mastery learning significantly improved anesthesiologists’ ultrasound-guided intravenous catheter insertion performance in a simulated setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPaediatric anaesthesia
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • anesthesiology
  • clinical competence
  • education
  • interventional
  • mastery learning
  • methods
  • peripheral catheterization
  • simulation training
  • standards ultrasonography
  • ultrasonography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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