A short medical school course on responding to bioterrorism and other disasters

Acad Med. 2005 Sep;80(9):820-3. doi: 10.1097/00001888-200509000-00007.


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.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Bioterrorism*
  • Curriculum
  • Disaster Planning / methods*
  • Disasters*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Emergency Medical Services / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Military Personnel
  • Program Development
  • Program Evaluation
  • Schools, Medical
  • September 11 Terrorist Attacks
  • Texas