First U.S. Dental School to Mandate Student Terrorism
NYUCD has become the first dental school in the United States to
implement a full, four-year curriculum in terrorism preparedness
training that all dental students must take in order to graduate.
“Our reasoning is based on two premises,” said Dean
Alfano. “First, that the country is vulnerable to
catastrophic events originating as natural disasters, industrial
accidents, or terrorist crimes; and second, that all graduates must
know the early warning signs and symptoms of attack along with appropriate
ways to respond to the needs of patients and staff, as well as how
to interact with other health professionals and first responders
to strengthen the community response.”
Dr. Dianne Rekow, Director of Translational Research and Chairperson
of NYUCD’s Bioterrorism and Catastrophe Response Task Force,
led the development of the bioterrorism preparedness curriculum.
Other faculty members
who played key roles in the project include Dr. Frederick More,
Professor of Epidemiology & Health Promotion and of Pediatric
Dentistry; Dr. Robert Boylan, Associate Professor of Basic Science
and Craniofacial Biology; Dr. Joan Phelan, Professor and Chairperson
of the Department of Oral Pathology; Dr. Miriam Robbins, Clinical
Associate Professor of Oral Medicine and Coordinator of Emergency
Dental Services; and Dr. Walter J. Psoter, Assistant Professor of
Epidemiology & Health Promotion.
“The program is designed to educate as well as to prepare
future dentists to participate fully in community, state, and national
biodefense teams,” said Dr. Rekow.
In fall 2003, students in all four years of the curriculum began
to learn specific aspects of terrorism preparedness and response.
In their freshman year, in the ethics program, they learn about
the ethical responsibilities of a dentist to society, and they also
learn the emergency response behaviors to follow within the college,
with regard to fire, infection control, evacuation, and shelter-in-place
requirements. Sophomores study general pathology and infectious
diseases, with the goal of becoming knowledgeable about potential
agents of bioterror (microbial, radiation, chemical), their actions
and human responses. Students in their junior year study clinical
signs of bioterror agents in order to identify the signs and symptoms
that signal a bioterrorist attack. They also perform differential
diagnosis between response to natural and to bioterror agents, and
become knowledgeable about vaccination and antidote availability
and policies. And seniors learn how to assess risk of attack, identify
potential agents and how they might be used, describe likely modes
of dissemination, identify signs and symptoms, communicate information
to patients and the community, and consider their role in national,
state, and local preparations and responses. In addition, a practice
management course addresses office equipment and staff training
Six second- and third-year students at the NYU College of Dentistry
got a preview of things to come last summer when they participated
in a week-long Army training course at Fort Sam Houston, Texas,
on the medical management of chemical, biological, radiological,
and nuclear agent threats. The program was conducted in cooperation
with the Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMS).
In another example of civilian-military collaboration, NYUCD cosponsored
a weekend conference entitled “New York City CBRNE (Chemical,
Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosive) Training for Emergency
Responders & Medical Professionals” in January 2004. Cosponsors
included the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene,
US AMEDDC & S, New York Critical Response Medical Service, Associated
Medical Schools of New York, and the US Army Medical Detachment,
1st Recruiting Brigade.
NYUCD’s plans call for continuing to work closely with the
military, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene,
and other medical and public safety professionals, to build a cadre
of dental graduates who will be able to respond appropriately within
their communities in the event of a catastrophic public health crisis.