Before Disaster Strikes: A Pilot Intervention to Improve Pediatric Trainees' Knowledge of Disaster Medicine

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OBJECTIVE: Because training in pediatric disaster medicine (PDM) is neither required nor standardized for pediatric residents, we designed and integrated a PDM course into the curriculum of a pediatric residency program and assessed if participation increased participants' knowledge of managing disaster victims. METHODS: We adapted and incorporated a previously studied PDM course into a small-sized pediatric residency program. The curriculum consisted of didactic lectures and experiential learning via simulation with structured debriefing. With IRB approval, the authors conducted a longitudinal series of pretests and posttests to assess knowledge and perceptions. RESULTS: Sixteen eligible residents completed the intervention. Before the course, none of the residents reported experience treating disaster victims. Pairwise comparison of scores revealed a 35% improvement in scores immediately after completing the course (95% confidence interval, 22.73%-47.26%; P < 0.001) and a 23.73% improvement 2 months later (95% confidence interval, 7.12%-40.34%; P < 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Residents who completed this course increased their knowledge of PDM with moderate retention of knowledge gained. There was a significant increase in perceived ability to manage patients in a disaster situation after this educational intervention and the residents' confidence was preserved 2 months later. This PDM course may be used in future formulation of a standardized curriculum.