Disaster Preparedness Medical School Elective: Bridging the Gap Between Volunteer Eagerness and Readiness

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Abstract

Objective

Eager medical students may not be prepared for unanticipated complexities of disaster response. This study aimed to answer 2 questions: does an online disaster preparedness curriculum create a convenient method to educate medical students and motivate them to be better prepared to volunteer?

Methods

An online disaster preparedness elective was created for medical students. Four modules were created using Softchalk and hosted on the Blackboard Learning Management System. Students completed embedded pre-elective, post-lesson, and post-elective surveys.

Results

Fifty-five students completed the elective. When posed with the statement, “I feel prepared for an emergency at the University or the immediate area,” 70% stated that they disagreed or strongly disagreed before the elective. Subsequently, only 11% claimed to disagree after the elective. At the conclusion of the elective, 13% of students had prepared a personal emergency kit and 28% had prepared a family communication plan for reunification. Students were surveyed on the statement “I would like to be involved in a community disaster response while continuing my medical training.” Ninety-four percent claimed to agree or strongly agree before the elective, and 93% stated the same after elective completion.

Conclusions

This disaster preparedness elective was envisioned to be a resource for students. Advantages of online availability are ease of student access and minimal demand on faculty resources. A voluntary, self-paced online elective in disaster preparedness has shown to create a stronger interest in disaster participation in medical students. Student readiness to volunteer improved; however, willingness remained stagnant.

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