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Caldwell, N.J., April 24, 2017 – Caldwell University students took part in the simulation exercise and competition “Solve the Outbreak” on April 21 on campus.

As “disease detectives,” nursing, public health education, science, sociology, counseling and business students tested their skills by discovering clues, analyzing data and learning how to better prepare for disasters, such as a pandemic flu outbreak.

Several students said they appreciated working in groups with students from different academic majors. “I liked working in a team because in the future we are going to work as a team,” said biology major Janis Jimenez.

The project was “absolutely amazing,” said Shanice Edwards, also a biology major. The students felt like they were doctors, she said. “It felt like it could happen at any given time.”

Samantha Coghlin, president of the Nursing Club, appreciated the “mix of majors … We all had different knowledge and brought what we had.”

Morgan Menzies, a biology major, liked the “team bonding,” hearing different opinions and working toward a common goal.

Gary Garetano, RN, MPH, Ph.D., public health emergency preparedness coordinator for the Essex Regional Health Commission, was the keynote speaker. He presented on “All-Hazards Preparedness: What Future Health Professionals Need to Know.”

The initiative was sponsored by the university’s Inter-Professional Health Education Collaborative.

Professor Brenda Petersen, chair of the Caldwell University Department of Public Health, put the program together along with Business Professor Virginia Rich. “It was a wonderful opportunity for the students to develop team-based problem-solving skills and discover more about the need for communities to be better prepared for disasters and for the prevention of outbreaks of disease,” said Petersen. Students Michael James, co-president of the Health Professions Club, and John McLaughlin, president of the Public Health Education Club, also worked with the professors in organizing the project.