Professionalization of disaster medicine - An appraisal of criterion-referenced qualifications

David A. Bradt, Christina M. Drummond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The landmark Humanitarian Response Review, commissioned by the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator in 2005, has catalyzed recent reforms in disaster response through the Inter-Agency Standing Committee. These reforms include a "cluster lead" approach to sectoral responsibilities and the strengthening of humanitarian coordination. Clinical medicine, public health, and disaster incident management are core disciplines underlying expertise in disaster medicine. Technical lead agencies increasingly provide pre-deployment training for selected health personnel. Moreover, technical innovations in disaster health sciences increasingly are disseminated to the disaster field through multi-agency initiatives, such as the Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transitions (SMART) initiative. The hallmark qualification of competency to render an informed opinion in the health specialties remains specialty board certification in North American healthcare traditions, or specialty society fellowship in British and Australasian healthcare traditions. However, disaster incident management training lacks international consensus on hallmark qualifications for competency. Disaster experience is best characterized in terms of months of fulltime, hands-on field service. Future practitioners in disaster medicine will see intensified efforts to define competency benchmarks across underlying core disciplines as well as key field performance indicators.Quantitative decisionsupport tools are emerging to assist disaster planners and medical coordinators in their personnel selection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)360-368
Number of pages9
JournalPrehospital and disaster medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2007


  • criterion-referenced qualifications
  • decision support tools
  • disaster
  • disaster medicine
  • epidemiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency


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