Arizona Interprofessional Simulated Pandemic Emergency a First

"Pandemic Flu: An Exercise in Disaster Preparedness" involved participants at eight sites.

For the first time in the nation, an interprofessional education activity has gone statewide to include health professions students and faculty from all three state universities.

For nearly three hours on Tuesday morning, Nov. 27, a simulated pandemic flu emergency involving nearly 550 students and more than 40 faculty facilitators from the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University helped prepare future health professionals to understand and tackle the complex logistical and ethical problems of a disease outbreak in Arizona while underscoring the importance of collaborations across professional lines.

“Pandemic Flu: An Exercise in Disaster Preparedness,” presented by the University of Arizona’s Interprofessional Education & Practice (IPEP) program, involved participants at eight sites – seven in Tucson and one in Phoenix.

Sites represented Bisbee, Flagstaff, Phoenix, Prescott, Tuba City, Tucson and Yuma and were linked through real-time telemedicine video conferencing. The Tucson sites, which included the emergency operations center (EOC), were at the Arizona Health Sciences Center, 1501 N. Campbell Ave.; the Phoenix site was at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, 435 N. Fifth St.

Participants included students and faculty from the UA College of Medicine – Tucson, UA College of Medicine – Phoenix, UA College of Pharmacy, UA College of Nursing, UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, UA James E. Rogers College of Law, Arizona State University School of Social Work in Phoenix and Tucson, and Northern Arizona University College of Health and Human Services’ Physician Assistant program in Phoenix.

The simulated pandemic is part of a four-week mini-course designed to teach and reinforce quality, safety and effectiveness through interprofessional teamwork. Students are asked to respond as a team to a variety of ethical dilemmas and scenarios and then analyze their actions.

“There’s no ‘right’ answer to some of these questions; we want students to see the complexity of these issues and the role and perspectives of other professionals,” says Hal Strich, associate director of the MD-MPH Dual Degree Program offered jointly by the UA College of Medicine – Tucson and UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, and a member of the IPEP pandemic flu planning committee.

The mini-course includes online learning, which students complete in the two weeks prior to the live interprofessional teamwork experience. The online learning includes an ice-breaker so students have a chance to meet their interprofessional team in advance of the simulated pandemic.

The simulated pandemic began at 9 a.m. with a pandemic flu mock newscast, followed by remarks delivered in real-time streaming video to teams of students in Tucson and Phoenix by Andreas Theodorou, MD, chief medical officer, The University of Arizona Medical Center – University Campus; UA professor of pediatrics; chief of pediatric critical care medicine and associate head, UA Department of Pediatrics.

Dr. Theodorou addressed the role of the emergency operations center (EOC), resource allocation and workforce needs in a public health emergency and the uses of new communication technologies. “It [an emergency] can happen to anyone.

Being prepared and learning are critically important,” says Dr. Theodorou. “All-Hazards Emergency Preparedness, Mitigation and Response,” the concept of disaster preparedness and the local, state and national infrastructure in place to respond to a public health emergency, was discussed by Richard Carmona, MD, MPH, FACS, 17th Surgeon General of the United States; distinguished professor with the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health; and president of Canyon Ranch Institute.

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