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Medical trainees face multiple barriers to participation in major outbreak responses such as that required for Ebola Virus Disease through 2014-2015 in West Africa. Hurdles include fear of contracting and importing the disease, residency requirements, scheduling conflicts, family obligations and lack of experience and maturity. We describe the successful four-week deployment to Liberia of a first year infectious diseases trainee through the mechanism of the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network of the World Health Organization. The posting received prospective approval from the residency supervisory committees and employing hospital management and was designed with components fulfilling the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) core competencies. It mirrored conventional training with regards to learning objectives, supervisory framework and assessment methods. Together with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and many other partners, the team joined the infection prevention and control efforts in Monrovia. Contributions were made to a 'ring fencing' infection control approach that was being introduced, including enhancement of triage, training and providing supplies in high priority health-care facilities in the capital and border zones. In addition the fellow produced an electronic database that enabled monitoring infection control standards in health facilities. This successful elective posting illustrates that quality training can be achieved, even in the most challenging environments, with support from the pedagogic and sponsoring institutions. Such experiential learning opportunities benefit both the outbreak response and the trainee, and if scaled up would contribute towards building a global health emergency workforce. More should be done from residency accreditation bodies in facilitating postings in outbreak settings.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS currents

Publication Date





Ministry of Health Holdings, Singapore; Division of Infectious Diseases, University Medicine Cluster, National University Health System, Singapore.