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A Short Medical School Course on Responding to Bioterrorism and Other Disasters

Parrish, Alan R. PhD; Oliver, Sandra PhD; Jenkins, Donald MD; Ruscio, Bruce PhD; Green, J Ben MD; Colenda, Christopher MD

Academic Medicine:
Article
Abstract

The events of 9/11 highlighted the limitations of the United States health care system in responding to large-scale public health emergencies. The key for an effective response to any mass casualty event is preparedness; thus, the education of medical students has become a priority. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) recommended that the nation's medical schools should thoroughly educate students about the public health and emergency services systems to ensure coordinated responses to weapons of mass destruction or other public health threats. In response, The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center College of Medicine, partnering with the Defense Institute for Medical Operations (DIMO), developed a one-week block of required (but not graded) instruction, the “Leadership Course in Disaster Response,” first given in 2003–04 to 72 second-year students and taught by six military experts from DIMO. The course goal is to (1) educate students on resources available for regional disaster response; (2) define principles of resource management in disaster response; (3) identify specific agents associated with bioterrorism; and (4) understand the psychosocial aspects of disasters. The course was well received, and the 2004–05 session was improved, based on student and faculty feedback. The authors describe the details of the course (specifically, how the course was tailored to fit the AAMC guidelines), changes in students' knowledge and attitudes, and how the course was improved.

Author Information

Dr. Parrish is an assistant professor, College of Medicine, Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, College Station, Texas.

Dr. Oliver is director of educational research and development, College of Medicine, Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, College Station, Texas.

Dr. Jenkins is chief of trauma surgery, Wilford Hall Medical Center, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

Dr. Ruscio is Program Director, Military Public Health, Office of the Surgeon General, United States Air Force, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Green is the associate dean for undergraduate medical education, College of Medicine, Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, College Station, Texas.

Dr. Colenda is dean, College of Medicine, Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, College Station, Texas.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Colenda, Office of the Dean, College of Medicine, Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, College Station, TX 77843-1114; telephone: (979) 845-3431; fax: (979) 847-8663; e-mail: 〈Colenda@medicine.tamhsc.edu〉.

© 2005 Association of American Medical Colleges