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NCDMPH Launches its Education Rotation for Disaster Health Science

A girl looks at a medical mannequin

By Elaine Myada

Uniformed Services University's  National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health (NCDMPH) launched its Disaster Science Student Rotation (DSSR) in June with two students, Ashley James and Dr. Veronica Abraham.

The DSSR offers students the opportunity to participate in prestigious, real-world disaster programs and to meet world experts during a comprehensive course of webinars, case studies, journal reviews and inspiring lectures. Some of the modules include: Introduction to Disasters, Health Consequences of Disasters, Natural Disasters by the Numbers, Biological Disasters, Earthquake Disasters, Tsunami Disasters, Volcano Disasters, Landslide, Flood Disaster, and Tropical Cyclone Disasters.

“We are extremely excited to have been joined by Ashley and Veronica for the DSSR,” said Dr. Thomas Kirsch, director of NCDMPH. “NCDMPH is committed to improving the knowledge, skills, and ability of the future disaster science workforce. The education rotation is just one way we plan to provide training opportunities for those in the disaster health science field and feel this is one way we can accomplish that goal.”

a man and women pose or a photo with a medical mannequin
Dr. Veronica Abraham gives her final presentation. (Image credit: courtesy of NCDMPH)
According to NCDMPH research, serious deficiencies involving the education of disaster practitioners and scientists have recently come to light. Existing programs have few opportunities to integrate with each other, or with federal programs in Washington.

“The DSSR has been a great experience for me as a physician and public health professional,” said Dr. Abraham, who holds a medical doctorate is from the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador in Quito and Master of Public Health from Drexel University in Philadelphia. Dr. Abraham is an adjunct faculty at an American University, is fluent in French and Spanish languages and has a great interest in global health due to her medical competency, cultural competency and language skills. “During the DSSR, I attended numerous very interactive educational activities. This experience helped me to better understand the different complexities of disaster management in the United States and around the world.”

“My experience as a DSSR student has allowed me to bring forth my credentialing as a public health epidemiology graduate student at Benedictine University,” said Ms. James, who received her bachelor’s degree in Health Education from the University of the District of Columbia. Ms. James has a passion for researching and analyzing scientific topics. “I learned a critical amount of information about disaster and emergency medicine and its impact on target populations.”

Also as part of the rotation, the students toured USU’s Anatomical Teaching Laboratory and gave presentations about issues of interest during the final week of their rotation. Ms. James’ presentation focused on Ethiopia’s drought and hazards with highlights on the utilization of the 10 Essential Services of Public Health Services. Dr. Abraham gave a presentation about earthquakes, focusing on the public health impacts of high magnitude earthquakes.

The DSSR is offered on a monthly basis year round. For more information about the DSSR, including how to apply visit,