Background: Nurses are often called upon to play the role of first responder when disaster occurs. Yet the lack of accepted competencies and gaps in education make it difficult to recruit nurses prepared to respond to a disaster and provide assistance in an effective manner.
Design: Based on the International Council of Nurses (ICN) Framework of Disaster Nursing Competencies and Global Standards for the Initial Education of Professional Nurses and Midwives, a training course titled “Introduction to Disaster Nursing” was designed and implemented with 150 students. A pre-post survey design was used to assess changes in participants’ self-rated disaster nursing competencies. The impact of the training course on participants’ attitudes toward disaster nursing and their learning experience were also assessed.
Findings: All participants passed the assessments and examination with an average score of 70%. Pre- and posttraining self-ratings of the disaster nursing competencies increased from 2.09 to 3.71 (p < .001) on a Likert scale of 1 to 5, and the effect size was large, with Cohen's d higher than 0.8. No significant difference in both examination results (60% group assignments; 40% written examination) and self-rated competencies was noted between the senior year students and graduate nurse participants by Mann-Whitney U test (p value = .90). The majority of participants indicated their willingness to participate as a helper in disaster relief and saw themselves competent to work under supervision.
Conclusions: The ICN Framework of Disaster Nursing Competencies was instrumental to guide the training curriculum development. This introductory training course could be incorporated into undergraduate nursing education programs as well as serve as a continuing education program for graduate nurses.
Clinical Relevance: The training program can be used for preparing generalist nurses of their nursing competencies in disaster preparedness, response and post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation.