Student Participation in Disaster Drills for Effective Learning Outcomes

Saturday, 16 November 2013: 3:55 PM

Thola A. Wolanski, MSN, BSN, RN
Department of Nursing Education, Elmira College, Elmira, NY

Learning Objective 1: At the end of this presentation the learner will be able to identify key concepts for outcome based learning activities.

Learning Objective 2: At the end of this presentation the learner will be able to discuss the validity of nursing student awareness of disaster preparedness.

Student Participation in Disaster Drills for Effective Learning Outcomes


Purpose:  To improve disaster preparedness in nursing students through active participation in disaster drill procedures in the hospital setting. 

Methodology:  Students enrolled in a leadership in nursing course participated in a planned disaster drill at a local medical center. Both cohorts were provided with training in disaster preparedness before participation in the drill exercises.  Students in the first cohort were assigned as patients or workers in the labor pool during the drill. The second cohort was assigned to shadow various leadership positions within the hospital during a planned exercise.  Both cohorts were given the same preparatory reports for the pending “disaster” in the days preceding as staff.  Students were debriefed after the exercise in addition to completing a written narrative evaluation of the experience.

 Reported Data:  The first cohort reported they felt the experience was beneficial however, their skills were not utilized in a professional capacity.  Students in the second cohort noted that they were able to participate at a higher level due to having specifically assigned roles and learning objectives related to their responsibilities as professionals.  Students in both cohorts equally reported active participation in the disaster drill reinforced concepts presented in the training. Students in the second cohort verbalized greater overall satisfaction with the assignment and its application to their roles as professional nurses after graduation.

Conclusions and Implications for Nursing:  Disaster preparedness has globally been given a higher priority in healthcare.   It is important that educators; expose our students to disaster preparedness as part of their curriculum with activities to reflect and reinforce learning outcomes.  This experience is valuable in that the students in the second cohort were able to apply the knowledge gained from the theory presented prior to the planned disaster; thus meeting overall learning outcomes.