Skip to main content Accessibility help

Integrating Simulation-Based Exercises into Public Health Emergency Management Curricula

  • Natasha Sanchez Cristal (a1) (a2), Noel Metcalf (a1), Debra Kreisberg (a3) and Charles M. Little (a4)


The aim of this study is to enrich public health emergency management (PHEM) curricula and increase the workforce readiness of graduates through the implementation of an innovative curriculum structure centered around simulation and the creation of authentic learning experiences into a mastery-based Disaster Preparedness graduate certificate program launched in 2016 at the Colorado School of Public Health. Learners progress through a sequence of increasingly complex discussion and operations-based exercises designed to align with training methodologies used by future employers in the disaster response field, covering PHEM fundamentals and domestic and international disaster preparedness and response. Preliminary feedback is overwhelmingly positive, equating the experience to securing an internship. Embedding simulation-based exercises and authentic learning environments into graduate curricula exposes learners to diverse disaster scenarios, provides occasion for practicing critical thinking and dynamic problem solving, increases familiarity with anticipated emergency situations, and builds the confidence necessary for exercising judgment in a real-world situation. This novel curriculum should serve as a model for graduate programs wishing to enrich traditional training tactics using a typical school of public health support and alignment with community resources. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2019;13:777–781)


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to Debra Kreisberg, 13001 E 17th Place, Mail Stop B119, Aurora, CO 80045, (e-mail: Debra.Kreisberg@UCDenver.Edu)


Hide All
1.Marks, CA. Professional competencies for the Master’s level emergency manager. Federal Emergency Management Agency Higher Education Project; 2005.
2.Feldmann-Jensen, S, Jensen, S, Smith, SM. Next Generation Core Competencies for Emergency Management Professionals: Handbook of behavioral anchors and key actions for measurement. Federal Emergency Management Agency, ed. 2017. Accessed June 11, 2017.
3.Comfort, LK, Wukich, C. Developing decision-making skills for uncertain conditions: the challenge of educating effective emergency managers. J Public Affairs Educ. 2013;19(1):53-71.
4.Ambrose, SA. How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. 1st ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; 2010.
5.Collins, ML, Peerbolte, SL. Public administration emergency management pedagogy: cultivating the habit of critical thinking. J Public Affairs Educ. 2012;18(2):315-326.
6.Silvia, C. The impact of simulations on higher-level learning. J Public Affairs Educ. 2012;18(2):397-422.
7.Herrington, J, Oliver, R. An instructional design framework for authentic learning environments. Educ Technol Res Dev. 2000;48(3):23-48.
8.Brown, JS, Collins, A, Duguid, P. Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educ Res. 1989;18(1):32-42.
9.Collins, A. Cognitive apprenticeship and instructional technology. Educational Values and Cognitive Instruction: Implications For Reform; 1991:121-138.
10.Lombardi, MM. Authentic learning for the 21st century: an overview. EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. 2007;1(2007):1-12.
11.Department of Homeland Security. Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program. FEMA Preparedness Toolkit. ed2013:1.1-6.2. Accessed March 4, 2018.
12.Pittman, E. Simulation-based training provides cost-effectiveness, flexibility. Emergency management. 2010. Accessed March 4, 2018.
13.Lateef, F. Simulation-based learning: just like the real thing. J Emerg Trauma Shock. 2010;3(4):348-352.
14.Miller, JL, Rambeck, JH, Snyder, A. Improving emergency preparedness system readiness through simulation and interprofessional education. Public Health Reports. 2014;129(6 Suppl 4):129-135.
15.Morrison, AM, Catanzaro, AM. High‐fidelity simulation and emergency preparedness. Public Health Nurs. 2010;27(2):164-173.
16.Cohen, D, Sevdalis, N, Taylor, D, et al. Emergency preparedness in the 21st century: training and preparation modules in virtual environments. Resuscitation. 2013;84(1):78-84.
17.McCabe, OL, Barnett, DJ, Taylor, HG, Links, JM. Ready, willing, and able: a framework for improving the public health emergency preparedness system. Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2010;4(2):161-168.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Integrating Simulation-Based Exercises into Public Health Emergency Management Curricula

  • Natasha Sanchez Cristal (a1) (a2), Noel Metcalf (a1), Debra Kreisberg (a3) and Charles M. Little (a4)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.