Disaster preparedness among medical students: A survey assessment


  • Kori Sauser, MD
  • Rita V. Burke, PhD, MPH
  • Rizaldy R. Ferrer, PhD
  • Catherine J. Goodhue, CPNP
  • Nikunj C. Chokshi, MD
  • Jeffrey S. Upperman, MD, FACS, FAAP




disaster preparedness, willingness, medical students


Objective: To describe the level of preparedness in performing medical procedures of medical students at one allopathic medical school and to determine the level of willingness to perform these procedures in the event of a disaster.
Design: Cross-sectional survey.
Setting: US allopathic medical school associated with a county hospital.
Participants: All third- and fourth-year medical students (344) in the 2007-2008 academic year were invited to participate. One hundred ninety-five students participated in this study (response rate _ 57.6 percent).
Main outcome measures: Information on demographic characteristics, personal disaster experience, personal disaster preparedness, and overall preparedness level and willingness to perform various medical procedures was collected. Multiple regression analysis was used to identify the factors predicting procedural willingness during a disaster.
Results: Demographics and personal disaster preparedness were not statistically significant between third-year medical students (M3) and fourth-year medical students (M4). Although procedural preparedness was significantly higher in M4 than M3, willingness to perform these procedures in a disaster was not different. Fourth-year students, first receivers (students’ anticipated field is in emergency medicine or surgery), not having had a personal disaster experience, and increased procedural preparedness independently impact procedural willingness in a disaster. However, when controlled for the covariate effects in the regression model, only first receivers, no past personal disaster experience, and increased procedural preparedness predicted willingness to perform medical procedures during a disaster.
Conclusions: Third- and fourth-year students possess skills that may prove useful in a disaster response. Further investigations are necessary to determine how medical students may be utilized during these events.

Author Biographies

Kori Sauser, MD

Resident, Department of Emergency Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Illinois.

Rita V. Burke, PhD, MPH

Senior Researcher, Department of Pediatric Surgery, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California.

Rizaldy R. Ferrer, PhD

Psychologist, Children, Youth, and Family Services, California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International University, Los Angeles, California.

Catherine J. Goodhue, CPNP

Research Program Administrator, Department of Pediatric Surgery, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California.

Nikunj C. Chokshi, MD

Research Fellow, Department of Pediatric Surgery, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California.

Jeffrey S. Upperman, MD, FACS, FAAP

Associate Professor of Surgery, Director of Trauma, Director of Pediatric Disaster Resource and Training Center, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California.


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How to Cite

Sauser, MD, K., R. V. Burke, PhD, MPH, R. R. Ferrer, PhD, C. J. Goodhue, CPNP, N. C. Chokshi, MD, and J. S. Upperman, MD, FACS, FAAP. “Disaster Preparedness Among Medical Students: A Survey Assessment”. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, vol. 5, no. 5, Sept. 2010, pp. 275-84, doi:10.5055/ajdm.2010.0033.

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