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Emerging Infectious Diseases & Pandemic Planning

Formerly COVID: Emerging Infectious Diseases

Updated: 6/22/22

Offered 01/06/2025-02/01/2025

*First two weeks will focus on ethics

*Second two weeks will focus on clinical

*Offered as two- or four-week option

*Available to both M3s and M4s.


  • For cohorts in the Spring and Summer Terms of 2020: This course is open for enrollment to students in the class of 2020, 2021, and 2022 who have completed all of the Phase 1 curriculum with the exception of Block 9:Transition to Clerkships and sitting for Step 1.
  • For all future cohorts beginning Fall of 2020: This course will be open for enrollment to students in Phase 2, who have successfully completed all core clerkships and all phase 3 students.

This 2- to 4-week online course will provide students with an instruction on the recent COVID-19 pandemic and compares it to yearly influenza outbreaks. Students will learn the microbiology behind COVID-19 and influenza as well as other organisms that may cause Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. Students will learn the foundations of caring for patients with influenza and the progressing severity of COVID-19. Testing for influenza and COVID-19 and test development will be discussed as well as vaccine development. Students will also learn to appreciate the impact of a pandemic on ethical decisions practitioners need to make when resources become scarce. Students will also complete the National Incident Management (NIMS) Training. This program outlines the
responsibilities and activities that were mandated as part of the Post-Katrina Management Reform Act of 2006.

Learning Objectives are broken down by course parts. Part I (Weeks 1 & 2) focuses on Microbiology, Immunology, and Clinical Care of Infected patients. Part II (Weeks 3 & 4) focuses on Population Health, Ethics & Health Humanities.

At the conclusion of Part I of this course a student will be able to:

  1. Explain the differences in microbiology, transmission, infectivity, and presentation between the Influenza virus and COVID-19 virus.
  2. Discuss the impact of the yearly influenza season on the population.
  3. Compare the 1918 pandemic response to the COVID-19 pandemic response.
  4. Utilize personal protective equipment.
  5. Discuss the measures a hospital system may put in place to keep its patients and community safe while preparing for a pandemic.
  6. Discuss the mechanisms by which experimental treatment options may be vetted during the early stages of a pandemic.
  7. The testing of potential treatment options for a patient with COVID-19.
  8. Participate in and evaluate the responses of an incident management team.

At the conclusion of Part II of this course a student will be able to:

  1. Describe the overarching public health framework, nomenclature, and taxonomy of epidemic/ pandemics: e.g., prevention, tracking and surveillance, public health messaging, crisis preparation and management, resource allocation and triage decisions during the various stages of a pandemic.
  2. Discuss the differences in population health ethics and clinical medical ethics, when and how community interests take precedence over individual rights, and the types of ethical dilemmas that health professionals will need to be prepared to negotiate during a pandemic.
  3. Critique the critical roles of governance and advocacy groups in managing a pandemic, and fast-tracking therapeutics and vaccines for emerging illnesses.
  4. Understand common themes and experiences of patients and health professionals during a pandemic (including fear, stigma, anxiety, abandonment, social isolation, moral distress) and strategies to mitigate on an individual and structural level
  5. Evaluate the possible moral distress and post-traumatic stress that can result when health professionals are called to work in high risk, resource limited clinical settings, and must make conflictual decisions that compromise their identities as persons and professionals.
  6. Explore the liminal role and responsibilities of being a health professions student during a pandemic and how it is similar to and different from being a layperson and a licensed treating professional.


  1. For Part I:
    This course will be an online only course. Students will be asked to complete various online learning modules, read papers, and attend  worldwide conferences offered virtually by the CDC, WHO, and CROI.
    Students will then meet with faculty members 1-2 times per week to discuss journal articles and scenarios. Students will be required to complete any assessments contained within online learning modules and submit up to three reflection papers during the course on data acquired during the outbreak, pandemic management, or ethical considerations.
  2. For Part II:
    1. There will be approximately 90 mins of prep materials a day (usually short readings, online modules, narrated ppts) with 60- 75 mins of virtual
      synchronous contact in a large group format on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of week 3, and on Monday and Wednesday for week 4 (depending
      on size of students we may break into two groups).
    2. On Tuesday and Thursday for Week 3, and Tuesday of week 4 we will have facilitated small ethics and humanities groups (size 10-12 students
      each) lasting 60-75 mins. These small groups will stay together for the duration of these two weeks.
    3. For the special Part II project assignment, the small groups will be broken into teams of 4-6 students, which will work together to complete one
      of 3 possible projects (of their choosing). For the last two days of their course, each team will do a formal presentation of their project to their fellow classmates.

Administrative Information Heading link

  • Program Number

    ELEC 441

  • Program Contacts

    Program Directors:
    Maureen H. Richards, PhD (Weeks 1&2); Kristi Kirschner, MD (weeks 3&4)

    Course Faculty:
    Sam Pope, JD, PhD; Janet Jokela, MD; Richard Tapping, PhD; Kristi Kirschner, MD; Elsa Vazquez, MD; Alfredo Mena Lora, MD

    Coordinator: Kayla Pecher
    Telephone: 815-395-5647

  • Program Information

    Duration: 2 or 4 Weeks
    Night Call: No
    Max Students Accepted: 15