Design and Evaluation of a Novel Health Security, Infectious Diseases, Health Systems Science, and Service Learning Course during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Regan Taylor, Rohan Khazanchi, Sharon Medcalf, Sean C. Figy, Elizabeth R. Lyden, Robin High, Geoffrey Talmon, Kari L. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


During the COVID-19 pandemic, academic health centers suspended clinical clerkships for students. A need emerged for innovative virtual curricula to continue fostering professional competencies. In March 2020, a multidisciplinary team from the University of Nebraska Medical Center had 2 weeks to create a course on the impact of infectious diseases that addressed the COVID-19 pandemic in real time for upper-level medical and physician assistant students. Content addressing social determinants of health, medical ethics, population health, service learning, health security, and emergency preparedness were interwoven throughout the course to emphasize critical roles during a pandemic. In total, 320 students were invited to complete the survey on knowledge gained and attitudes about the course objectives and materials and 139 responded (response rate 43%). Students documented over 8,000 total hours of service learning; many created nonprofit organizations, aligned their initiatives with health systems efforts, and partnered with community-based organizations. Thematic analysis of qualitative evaluations revealed that learners found the greatest value in the emphasis on social determinants of health, bioethics, and service learning. The use of predeveloped, asynchronous e-modules were widely noted as the least effective aspect of the course. The COVID-19 pandemic introduced substantial challenges in medical education but also provided trainees with an unprecedented opportunity to learn from real-world emergency preparedness and public health responses. The University of Nebraska Medical Center plans to create a health security elective that includes traditional competencies for emergency preparedness and interrogates the social and structural vulnerabilities that drive disproportionately worse outcomes among marginalized communities. With further evaluation, many components of the curriculum could be broadly scaled to meet the increasing need for more public health and health security medical education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)238-245
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Security
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Emergency medicine
  • Emerging infectious diseases
  • Health security education
  • Hospital preparedness/response
  • Social determinants of health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Design and Evaluation of a Novel Health Security, Infectious Diseases, Health Systems Science, and Service Learning Course during the COVID-19 Pandemic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this