Introduction: This exercise was designed to create an emergency scenario in which future physicians would be mobilized to respond to a global pandemic. The nature of a large-scale emergency is that physicians will find themselves serving the community in unusual ways and collaborating with a variety of professionals and sectors to coordinate a response. Students are prompted to consider the challenges that such a large-scale event would introduce, including the personnel resources, evolving concerns, material resources, and cooperating partners in a pandemic scenario. Through the emphasis on community resources and population health, as well as an introduction to the local public health infrastructure, students will consider the need to prepare for emergencies in the future, as well as their role in the overall health care system. Methods: This activity offers students a glimpse into the nature of public health emergencies, the need for interprofessional collaboration, and the implications of pandemic disease. The session includes an introductory presentation, research time in small groups, group sharing, and a reflective period. Included with the module is a PowerPoint presentation, instructor’s guide, a grid for the groups to formulate their research, and a suggested resource list. Results: Student feedback over the past 3 years was obtained informally at the end of the session, through course evaluations, and by collecting post-activity focus group and individual reports to the course directors. Student response was highly favorable regarding both content and format, and indicated that the students found the pandemic activity both engaging and thought-provoking. Discussion: Students found that the activity session encouraged them to think outside of the normal individual patient parameters and illuminated the additional challenges faced when practicing medicine in the public health arena. Moving forward in the student training process, the activity kept students mindful of these parameters and student knowledge of public health issues appeared satisfactory in subsequent years of their education.
- Identify and describe the various perspectives and contributions of local health departments, private physicians, hospitals, and first responders in responding to a pandemic situation.
- Explain barriers that health care workers must overcome to maintain delivery of essential services under crisis conditions.
- Independently gather key data about local health systems and adapt clinical knowledge to broader health challenges.
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