Preparing Health Professions Students for Terrorism, Disaster, and Public Health Emergencies: Core Competencies

Redlener, Irwin E.; DiMaggio, Charles J.; Markenson, David

The recent increased threat of terrorism, coupled with the ever-present dangers posed by natural disasters and public health emergencies, clearly support the need to incorporate bioterrorism preparedness and emergency response material into the curricula of every health professions school in the nation. A main barrier to health care preparedness in this country is a lack of coordination across the spectrum of public health and health care communities and disciplines. Ensuring a unified and coordinated approach to preparedness requires that benchmarks and standards be consistent across health care disciplines and public health, with the most basic level being education of health professions students. Educational competencies establish the foundation that enables graduates to meet occupational competencies. However, educational needs for students differ from the needs of practitioners. In addition, there must be a clear connection between departments of public health and all other health care entities to ensure proper preparedness. The authors describe both a process and a list of core competencies for teaching emergency preparedness to students in the health care professions, developed in 2003 and 2004 by a team of experts from the four health professions schools of Columbia University in New York City. These competencies are directly applicable to medical, dental, nursing, and public health students. They can also easily be adapted to other health care disciplines, so long as differences in levels of proficiency and the need for clinical competency are taken into consideration.

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Academic Medicine

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Academic Units
National Center for Disaster Preparedness
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January 18, 2013