Faculty Highlight – Sharon Medcalf was instrumental in the establishment of the College of Public Health’s new programs in emergency preparedness. She developed four core courses for the professional certificate and master of science programs and directs two of the courses each semester. She is pleased to observe a growth in enrollment of students who recognize the importance of a basic understanding of this field, in preparation for their careers in the health care arena. Ms. Medcalf is currently in the process of converting all four courses into online versions, which she anticipates will attract national and international students to the programs. Ms. Medcalf serves on capstone committees, where she helps to guide students who seek to blend their public health expertise with a project in the emergency preparedness arena.
Ms. Medcalf’s research focus is in two distinct areas. She evaluates hospital preparedness and the evacuation plans that are developed by hospitals in the region. The Joplin tornado and Hurricane Sandy forced all hospitals to examine their evacuation plans. Her other area of interest is smallpox. She was heavily involved in the National Smallpox Vaccination program launched in 2003. In response to a credible threat, the US vaccinated almost 40,000 health care and public health workers across the nation. Her colleagues in the laboratories also established a network of sites to test for smallpox. Her current research project is looking at smallpox vaccination in laboratory workers at smallpox testing sites across the country. She hopes her research will inform national guidelines on the frequency with which this vaccination should be administered to lab workers.
Ms. Medcalf is the associate director of the Center for Preparedness Education, a training center established in 2002 to provide educational programs for Nebraska’s response community, which refers to anyone who would be involved in responding to a disaster. The professionals trained range from first-responders to the health care workers who would care for the casualties in a hospital.
Ms. Medcalf is serving her second term on the Board of Directors of the Public Health Association of Nebraska and values being part of an organization that is bolstering the public health infrastructure in Nebraska. She recently served an extended term on the Board of Directors of the Mid-Continental Region of the National Libraries of Medicine. She was nominated to this position based on her expertise in emergency preparedness and was pleased to serve the organization as they prepared for their role as a vital resource in times of disasters.
Sharon Medcalf, MEd, is an instructor in the UNMC COPH Department of Health Promotion, Social and Behavioral Health, and the associate director of the Center for Preparedness Education in the Center for Biopreparedness, Biosecurity, and Emerging Infectious Diseases.