Preparing Medical Students for a Pandemic: A Systematic Review of Student Disaster Training Programmes

Postgrad Med J. 2020 Jun 9;postgradmedj-2020-137906. doi: 10.1136/postgradmedj-2020-137906. Online ahead of print.


Objective: To identify pandemic and disaster medicine-themed training programmes aimed at medical students and to assess whether these interventions had an effect on objective measures of disaster preparedness and clinical outcomes. To suggest a training approach that can be used to train medical students for the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Results: 23 studies met inclusion criteria assessing knowledge (n=18, 78.3%), attitude (n=14, 60.9%) or skill (n=10, 43.5%) following medical student disaster training. No studies assessed clinical improvement. The length of studies ranged from 1 day to 28 days, and the median length of training was 2 days (IQR=1-14). Overall, medical student disaster training programmes improved student disaster and pandemic preparedness and resulted in improved attitude, knowledge and skills. 18 studies used pretest and post-test measures which demonstrated an improvement in all outcomes from all studies.

Conclusions: Implementing disaster training programmes for medical students improves preparedness, knowledge and skills that are important for medical students during times of pandemic. If medical students are recruited to assist in the COVID-19 pandemic, there needs to be a specific training programme for them. This review demonstrates that medical students undergoing appropriate training could play an essential role in pandemic management and suggests a course and assessment structure for medical student COVID-19 training.

Registration: The search strategy was not registered on PROSPERO-the international prospective register of systematic reviews-to prevent unnecessary delay.

Keywords: accident & emergency medicine; education & training (see medical education & training); medical education & training; trauma management.