196043 Simulating Pandemic Influenza: Using Technology to Teach Public Health Preparedness

Monday, November 9, 2009

Jan K. Carney, MD MPH , Department of Medicine, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT
Christopher Grace, MD , Infectious Disease Unit, Fletcher Allen Health Care, Burlington, VT
Jill Jemison , University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT
Tania Bertsch, MD , University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT
Background: Innovative methods to efficiently simulate pandemic situations can facilitate engagement and preparedness learning. Objective: Describe and evaluate a pilot model, using technology, to simulate pandemic progression and decision-making in a 500-bed hospital and surrounding community. Methods: The University of Vermont College of Medicine Educational Tool (COMET), an electronic learning system, was used as a teaching platform. 72 clerkship medical students participated in a 4 hour pilot exercise. A first-hour introductory lecture concluded with a simulated emergency broadcast message from the department of health director that WHO Pandemic Phase had changed from III to IV, and students transitioned to small groups. A total of 6 timed emergency broadcasts were sequentially dispatched into 9 small classrooms over a 2-hour period, followed by a 1 hour large-group debriefing. The scenario began with a student with flu-like symptoms following international travel and progressed to demands for anti-viral medications and vaccines, work refusals, and ventilator shortages. Decisions faced extreme time-pressures, as subsequent emergency broadcasts appeared, with student groups required to develop medication distribution plans and triage patients. Results: 94.4% completed a COMET evaluation to assess knowledge and attitudes: 93% agreed or strongly agreed that physicians and hospitals are best prepared for pandemic illness with written plans, preparedness exercises, and stockpiles of antiviral medications and personal protective equipment; 94% agreed or strongly agreed that understanding their role in public health emergencies is important to their training. Conclusions: This innovative simulation was an engaging method to teach preparedness and could be utilized in other settings.

Learning Objectives:
1.Describe this method of using technology to simulate pandemic progression. 2.Discuss the use of this method in preparing health professionals for emergency preparedness. 3.Assess the potential uses of this simulation technology in other settings.

Keywords: Technology, Public Health Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I participated in the design, implementation, evaluation, interpretation, and critical review of this paper.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.