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Disaster medicine has been identified as a fundamental discipline for health professionals. In Italy, the role of physicians during disaster response is officially recognized by the Italian Code of Medical Ethics and by the Ministry of Education. Nevertheless, few Italian medical schools include this discipline in their curricula.
With the aim of teaching basic knowledge of disaster medicine to Italian medical students, Research Center in Emergency and Disaster Medicine (CRIMEDIM) and Italian Medical Students’ Association (SISM) developed DisasterSISM, a nationwide training project in disaster medicine.
DisasterSISM consists of three courses: Basic, Advanced, and Train-of-Trainers (ToT). The Basic courses are managed by medical students who are trained during the one-week intense ToT. All courses are delivered using innovative training methodologies, such as e-learning, peer education, table-top exercises, and virtual reality simulations.
From 2012 to 2018, a total of 122 courses (111 Basic, 5 Advanced, and 6 ToT) have been delivered. DisasterSISM reached 37 out of 45 Italian medical schools, training more than 2,500 students. A survey conducted after the end of each course showed that participants considered the knowledge in Disaster Medicine essential for their future profession, regardless of the specialty chosen. Students also expressed their appreciation about the blended-learning approach, with a predilection for virtual reality simulations. The comparison between the entrance and the final exam scores showed a significant increase in knowledge.
In six years, DisasterSISM reached the majority of Italian medical schools, providing disaster medicine knowledge to hundreds of undergraduates. Considering the fast growth and diffusion of the project, the significant increase of knowledge, and the positive feedback received from participants, we suggest that the DisasterSISM model be implemented in other countries to widely disseminate information about prevention and disaster preparedness among medical students and health professionals.
Both virtual and hybrid simulation training offer a realistic and effective educational framework and opportunity to provide virtual exposure to operational public health skills that are essential for infection control and Ebola treatment management. This training is designed to increase staff safety and create a safe and realistic environment where trainees can gain essential basic and advanced skills. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2015;9:543–546
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