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What and how are EM residents being taught to respond to the next disaster?

Angela P. Cornelius, MD, W. Knox Andress, BA, RN, Reuben Ajayi, MS, Urska Cvek, ScD, MBA, Brian Cornelius, DNP, CRNA, Phillip C. S. R. Kilgore, MS, Marjan Trutschl, ScD, Christopher Kang, MD


Objective: Disasters, both natural and manmade, have become commonplace and emergency physicians serve on the front line. Residency may be the only time that emergency physicians are exposed to a disaster, through training, until one happens in their department; therefore, it is critical to provide residents with appropriate and timely disaster education. The goal of this study was to assess the current status of disaster education in emergency medicine (EM) residencies in the United States.

Methods: A list of disaster topics was generated by reviewing disaster literature and validated by subject matter experts. Between May and December 2016, the authors conducted a national computerized survey of the 229 US EM residencies listed by the American Osteopathic Association and the American Medical Association. It focused on the methods of instruction and amount of time devoted to each topic.

Results: Of the 229 eligible residency programs, 183 (79.9 percent) completed the survey. Of those, 98.9 percent report teaching disaster management topics. Nine of 18 disaster medicine topics were taught at >60 percent of responding programs. The most common topics were emergency management principles and mass casualty triage, while the least common was hazard vulnerability analysis. The most common method of instruction was lecture (68.5 percent) and the least common methods were journal club and field exercises.

Conclusions: Broad education in disaster medicine is provided in most US EM residencies. Standardization of topics is still lacking and would be beneficial to encourage comprehensive education. Addressing the educational gaps and curriculum methodology changes identified in this survey would increase curriculum standardization.


disaster preparedness, resident education, disaster, education, emergency medicine

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