Becoming a Disaster Medical Specialist

Disaster Medical Specialists are trained doctors, who treat people affected by emergencies, casualties and natural disasters. They plan pre-disaster preparations, oversee treatment at the disaster scenes and then ensure transportation of victims to hospitals or any other medical facilities for further treatment.

Educational Requirements: A Diploma or Associate’s Degree in Medicine, can be considered as an entry level education to become a Disaster Medical Specialist. However, many employers prefer a Bachelor’s Degree with a specialization in emergency care. So, it would be advisable to get the basic medical education first and then get on-the-job training to excel in this field.

  1. Medical School Training: Disaster Medical Specialists are required to complete a four-year medical school training like all other medical professionals.
  2. Residency Programs: After completing the four-year medical school training, the aspirants will have to go for residency programs, which usually take 3-4 years. During disaster medical training on residency, students will be required to complete field and classroom training and visit the sites to assist the disaster victims.
  3. Certification: The American Academy of Disaster Medicine and American Board of Physician Specialties provide certification courses and adequate training to help the medical professionals become Disaster Medical Specialists.

Key Challenges:

  • Keep yourself updated about the current happenings in your vicinity and try to collect data on disasters.
  • Use medical supplies and pain killers to provide immediate comfort to the victims when you reach a disaster scene.
  • Make sure to have relevant medical supplies such as oxygen kit, life-saving medicines, intravenous fluids etc.
  • Find out the flaws and rectify those in your next assignment.
  • Make a routine inspections of medical supplies and equipments and suggest improvements if needed.
  • Consult with physicians, surgeons and specialists and offer your assistance, as you are the first point of contact with the patients.

Salary & Wages: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a Disaster Medical Specialist earns approximately $150,000 to $300,000 per year. And, the job outlook remains brighter in this profession because of the unusual increase in disasters and emergencies.

Be it hurricane, earthquake, any road mishap, train accident or any terror attacks, Disaster Medical Specialist has a greater role to play in minimizing the casualties and ensure quick and effective treatment to the injured. They not only oversee the rescue operations, but also manage teams of health care professionals, first responders and volunteers.