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Innovation in Graduate Education for Health Professionals in Humanitarian Emergencies

  • Dabney P. Evans (a1), Mark Anderson (a2), Cyrus Shahpar (a2), Carlos del Rio (a1) and James W. Curran (a3)...

The objective of this report was to show how the Center for Humanitarian Emergencies (the Center) at Emory University (Atlanta, Georgia USA) has trained graduate students to respond to complex humanitarian emergencies (CHEs) through innovative educational programs, with the goal of increasing the number of trained humanitarian workers. Natural disasters are on the rise with more than twice as many occurring from 2000-2009 as there were from 1980-1989. In 2012 alone, 144 million people were affected by a natural disaster or displaced by conflict worldwide. This has created an immense need for trained humanitarian workers to respond effectively to such disasters. The Center has developed a model for educational programming that targets learners along an educational continuum ranging from the undergraduate level through continuing professional education. These programs, based in the Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH) of Emory University, include: a competency-based graduate certificate program (the Certificate) in humanitarian emergencies; a fellowship program for mid-career professionals; and funded field practica. The competency-based Certificate program began in 2010 with a cohort of 14 students. Since then, 101 students have received the Certificate with 50 more due for completion in 2016 and 2017 combined. The fellowship program for mid-career professionals has hosted four fellows from conflict-affected or resource-poor countries, who have then gone on to assume leadership positions with humanitarian organizations. From 2009-2015, the field practicum program supported 34 students in international summer practicum experiences related to emergency response or preparedness. Students have participated in summer field experiences on every continent but Australia. Together the Certificate, funded field practicum opportunities, and the fellowship comprise current efforts in providing innovative education and training for graduate and post-graduate students of public health in humanitarian response. These modest efforts are just the beginning in terms of addressing the global shortage of skilled public health professionals that can coordinate humanitarian response. Evaluating existing programs will allow for refinement of current programs. Ultimately, these programs may influence the development of new programs and inform others interested in this area.

Evans DP , Anderson M , Shahpar C , del Rio C , Curran JW . Innovation in Graduate Education for Health Professionals in Humanitarian Emergencies. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2016;31(5):532538.

Corresponding author
Correspondence: Dabney P. Evans, PhD, MPH 1518 Clifton Road, NE Mailstop 1518-002-7BB Atlanta, Georgia 30322 USA E-mail:
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Prehospital and Disaster Medicine
  • ISSN: 1049-023X
  • EISSN: 1945-1938
  • URL: /core/journals/prehospital-and-disaster-medicine
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