Ready to Respond: A Survey of Interdisciplinary Health-Care Students and Administrators on Disaster Management Competencies

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Disaster medicine and public health preparedness


Background: A sense of competency and confidence in disaster management is linked to response willingness and efficacy. This study assessed current health-care student disaster competency curricula and resultant confidence. Methods: A survey was sent to students and administrators in nurse practitioner (NP), master of public health (MPH), and medical/osteopathic schools (MD/DO), assessing curriculum coverage of 15 disaster management competencies (1-4, total 15-60), and confidence in performing 15 related behaviors (1-7, total 15-105). One-way analysis of variance with Tukey's post-hoc and Mann-Whitney U-tests were used to examine group differences. Results: A total of 729 students and 72 administrators completed the survey. Low coverage of all topics was reported by both students and administrators (mean 24.4; SD 9.6). Among students, NP students (21.66 ± 8.56) scored significantly lower than MD/DO (23.32 ± 8.19; P < 0.001) and MPH students (26.58 ± 9.06; P < 0.001) on curriculum coverage. Both administrators and students expressed low confidence in competence, with students significantly lower (P < 0.001). NP students scored higher (63.12 ± 20.69; P < 0.001) than both MPH (54.85 ± 17.82) and MD/DO (51.17 ± 19.71; P < 0.001) students. Conclusions: Health-care students report low coverage of topics considered to be necessary disaster response competencies, as well as their confidence to execute functions. This may negatively impact willingness and ability of these professionals to respond effectively in a disaster.

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