Development of a disaster preparedness curriculum for medical students: A pilot study of incorporating local events into training opportunities


  • Katherine A. Pollard, BA
  • Daniel J. Bachmann, MD
  • Marek Greer, MD, MPH
  • David P. Way, MEd
  • Nicholas E. Kman, MD



disaster planning, emergency preparedness, education, medical, undergraduate


Objective: Contemporary disasters, like the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, have piqued the interest of medical students in disaster preparedness. The topic is also a requirement of undergraduate medical education.1 Yet current literature suggests that disaster preparedness education is lacking. Our objective was to pilot a curriculum to augment medical students’ disaster preparedness education by marshalling local resources to provide practical hands-on experiences.

Design: This pilot curriculum consisted of lectures; simulations; asynchronous learning materials; a large-scale, regional disaster exercise; and preparation for and participation in a real-time mass gathering. Outcomes were measured by student performance on written tests and evaluations of each activity. Setting: Academic Health Center with associated medical school.

Participants: Fifty-two medical students participated in at least one of the six activities during this voluntary pilot program. Premedical students and residents (n = 57) participated in some activities.

Results: Forty-one medical students took either the pretest or the post-test over the curriculum. Only eight students took both. A paired t test comparing pretest to post-test scores using imputed missing data (t = −11.72, df = 40, p 0.001) was consistent with an analysis using only complete data (t = −2.35, df = 7, p = 0.05), implying that student scores improved significantly over time. Evaluations indicated a student preference for hands-on over didactic or independent learning activities.

Conclusions: This pilot curriculum was designed to capitalize on practical hands-on training opportunities for our medical students, including participation in a disaster exercise and a mass-gathering event. These opportunities provided effective and engaging disaster preparedness education.

Author Biographies

Katherine A. Pollard, BA

Medical Student, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio.

Daniel J. Bachmann, MD

Department of Emergency Medicine, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio.

Marek Greer, MD, MPH

Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, Ohio

David P. Way, MEd

Department of Emergency Medicine, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio.

Nicholas E. Kman, MD

Department of Emergency Medicine, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio.


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How to Cite

Pollard, BA, K. A., D. J. Bachmann, MD, M. Greer, MD, MPH, D. P. Way, MEd, and N. E. Kman, MD. “Development of a Disaster Preparedness Curriculum for Medical Students: A Pilot Study of Incorporating Local Events into Training Opportunities”. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, vol. 10, no. 1, Jan. 2015, pp. 51-59, doi:10.5055/ajdm.2015.0188.