Background: The hurricane disasters of 2005 and the threat of pandemic infectious diseases compel medical educators to develop emergency preparedness training for medical students and other health care professional students.
Description: This article describes an experiential exercise for learning a number of the general core competencies in the 2003 AAMC report titled "Training Future Physicians about Weapons of Mass Destruction." A modified tabletop exercise for medical and veterinary students, which was developed and implemented in 2005, is described. The exercise focused on Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), an emerging infectious disease scenario that raised the possibility of biological attack. The students were assigned roles in small groups, such as community physicians, hospital personnel, public health officials, veterinarians, school nurses, and emergency managers. Fifteen faculty members were recruited from these various areas of expertise. Pre- and posttesting of medical students showed significant gains in knowledge. The authors describe the scenario, small-group role playing, study questions, injects, Web sites and readings, and evaluation tools.
Conclusions: This experiential exercise is an effective, inexpensive, and easily adapted tool for promoting multiple competencies in mass health emergency preparedness for a variety of health care students including medical, veterinary, public health, and nursing students.