BACKGROUND: Peripheral intravenous cannula insertion is the most common invasive healthcare procedure, however failure rates remain unacceptably high, particularly in patients with difficult intravascular access. This leads to treatment delays and increased complication risk, causing poorer outcomes among this patient subset. Ultrasonographic guidance reduces these risks and is therefore becoming a competency required of health professionals. However, there is no consensus on how to design teaching sessions to achieve this competency. METHODS: Systematic review was conducted to identify characteristics of effective teaching sessions for current and training health professions to achieve ultrasound guided peripheral intravenous cannulation competency. Secondary outcomes included defining competency and to assess benefits to patients and healthcare systems. Eligibility for inclusion required description of teaching of ultrasound guided peripheral intravenous cannulation to qualified or training health professionals who went on to perform it in human patients or volunteers with reported outcomes or success rates. Studies were excluded if not accessible in full, not peer-reviewed or presented research that had been presented elsewhere previously. Of the 1085 records identified on review of 6 databases, 35 were included for final review based on eligibility criteria. RESULTS: Almost all (97.1%) used mixed modality teaching comprising of didactic and simulation portions, although time allocated varied widely. A median of 5 proctored procedures was required for competency. Competency was independent of previous experience or staff seniority. Mean reported insertion attempts was 1.7, success rate was 82.5% and first-time success rate was 75.5%. All included studies described improvement in their participants or healthcare system including significantly reduced midline insertion rates, central venous catheter insertion rates and associated bacteremia and sepsis, self-reported cannulation difficulty, specialist input, therapy delays and premature catheter failure rates. Further, there was significantly improved procedural confidence, knowledge and competence. CONCLUSION: Simple teaching interventions can lead to competent ultrasound guided peripheral intravenous cannula insertion by novices, resulting in numerous positive outcomes for patients and healthcare systems.