Original Publication
Open Access

Teaching Outbreak Preparedness in the Emergency Medicine Clerkship: An Innovative Approach

Published: March 14, 2007 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.586

Included in this publication:

  • Instructor's Guide.doc
  • Workshop Instructions.ppt
  • Workshop Manuscript.doc
  • Emerging Infections Lecture.ppt
  • Pre-Post Workshop Evaluation Forms.doc

To view all publication components, extract (i.e., unzip) them from the downloaded .zip file.

Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


Clinicians should be competent at contagious disease outbreak detection and management. Given the threat of emerging infectious diseases and biowarfare, there is a need to develop instructional methods on these topics. Presented here is a case-based exercise addressing sentinel case recognition, reporting, and containment. This workshop, conducted for medical students during their emergency medicine clerkship, incorporates the core competencies of systems-based practice, practice-based learning, and patient care. The workshop is held in a hospital conference room with internet, telephone, and other resources available, simulating real life. A hypothetical case of Ebola presenting to an emergency department is outlined. Participants are divided into small groups representing the physician, the local health department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the hospital administration, infection control, and the laboratory director. Each group has 30 minutes to define its roles and responsibilities in preparation for the hypothetical outbreak. A companion manuscript is provided. Each small group then presents its approach to responding to the outbreak. Next, the faculty facilitator gives a 45-minute lecture. Pre- and postworkshop surveys indicated that this resource is useful. The format of the workshop is easy to reproduce and can serve as a foundation for a curriculum in emerging infections and communicable disease management or be applied to other educational topics. Pre- and postworkshop surveys also indicated a statistically significant improvement in students’ comfort with accessing available resources in the event of an outbreak.

Educational Objectives

By the end of this case-based exercise, learners will be able to:

  1. Recognize potential sentinel cases for an outbreak.
  2. Be familiar with mechanisms for outbreak reporting.
  3. Identify measures that can be taken toward outbreak containment in the emergency department.
  4. Identify available resources for contagious disease outbreak detection.

Author Information

  • Larissa May, MD: George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences

None to report.

None to report. 

Prior Presentations
Workshop and poster presented at: AAMC Annual Meeting; October 2006; Seattle, WA.


May L. Teaching outbreak preparedness in the emergency medicine clerkship: an innovative approach. MedEdPORTAL. 2007;3:586. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.586