1 Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec (CANADA)
2 Université de Sherbrooke (CANADA)
3 Direction de Santé Publique de la Montérégie (CANADA)
4 Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux du Québec (CANADA)
5 Direction de la Santé Publique de la Capitale Nationale (CANADA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 4397-4407
ISBN: 978-84-614-7423-3
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain
Infectious disease epidemics in the community and health care settings have been and will continue to be a major public health problem worldwide. A rapid outbreak detection is the second of ten essential public health functions, which are defined and required by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization “to improve, promote, protect, and restore the health of the population through collective action”.

In response to two need assessment studies and according to the core competencies for public health reference guide developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada , we produced a training program aimed to develop abilities and skills in investigation of infectious disease outbreaks. The program reviews and specifies:

- basic concepts in epidemiology of infections;
- steps involved in the investigation as well as the key principles for managing an infectious outbreak;
- roles and responsibilities of health organisations to ensure the implementation and follow up of control measures;
- strategies to effectively communicate health risks and results of outbreak investigations.

The training program is designed for professionals working in epidemiology, surveillance and infection control in public health departments or health care centers. It may also be suitable for graduate students or other professionals interested in acquiring skills in field epidemiology. Delivered by public health experts, this program uses a competency-based approach to facilitate learning and integrate theory with practice.

The program contains three modules: an introductory and two intermediate level modules which include 60 hours of training with a tutor and 120 hours of individual work. Moodle(TM), an Open Source Course Management System, was used as a tool for creating the online modules. Individual and group exercises, reports, workshops and discussions on selected case studies and topics supplement the training activities. Students that successfully complete the program earn 4 credits from the University of Montreal which can be used towards a master’s or doctorate degree.

Since 2008, more than 60 individuals have completed the program. Changes have been made to the structure in order to suit the target audience’s needs. Presently, we are working on creating a mobile support team to help regions with limited resources to deal with important infectious disease outbreaks.

Our program, which combines different learning techniques, is a suitable and comprehensive model for developing and strengthening field epidemiology competencies among health professionals and graduate students. This allows them to understand that outbreak investigation is more than applying basic concepts of epidemiology but also implicates different parties which work together as a team to finally "get to the bottom of things".
e-learning, continuous education, competency-based approach, outbreak investigation.