Partnership agreement with GE matches students with the latest medical technology

A new agreement with General Electric Company (GE) puts a cutting-edge diagnostic tool in the hands of EVMS medical students early in their training. The donation of 34 portable ultrasound machines puts EVMS at the forefront of a movement to incorporate more technology into the curriculum for future doctors. 

Advances in ultrasound and digital technology have made the equipment small enough to carry directly to patients’ bedsides, allowing for quick and accurate diagnoses of common conditions, such as heart disease, kidney stones, pelvic masses, gallstones and internal bleeding. The machines also are more cost-effective, and ultrasound has advantages over other imaging modalities as it does not emit radiation such as X-rays and CT (computed tomography) scans and is more affordable than MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT.   

“These machines will be the stethoscopes of the future,” says Alfred Z. Abuhamad, MD, Professor and Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “They allow you to look at a patient’s anatomy directly as you perform a physical examination. Exposing medical students to this imaging modality at the start of their studies is something that very few other medical schools are doing.”

GE donated 30 smart-phone-size machines and four laptop versions. The equipment, valued at $350,000, will become part of classroom and laboratory curricula beginning with first- and second-year students and progressing into their clinical years. Faculty
members also will receive training on the devices. The ultrasound machines can help students learn about anatomy, identify tumors and abnormalities in living organs and perform invasive procedures, such as catheterization.

EVMS plans to track how students use the technology later in training and ultimately in their medical careers as part of a clinical study in collaboration with GE. Alexander B. Levitov, MD, Professor of Internal Medicine, is the Principal Investigator on this study. Dr. Abuhamad expects ultrasound to become an important complement of the physical examination and clinical decisionmaking.  

“This really is a great achievement for EVMS,” he says. “This allows our medical students and faculty to be at the forefront of medical education and at the frontier of a novel use of this technology.”  

Dr. Abuhamad has a long-established relationship with GE as a researcher. He also sits on the board of the Society of Ultrasound in Medical Education, which promotes the use of clinical ultrasound in medical student education and training, and is the current President of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine.