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Disaster Medicine Description

Each physician taking the CBT and simulation certification examinations demonstrates his or her knowledge and skills in the areas listed below. The CBT component of the examination addresses the topics listed. The simulation component, available to candidates who pass the CBT examination, focuses on application of these topics.

For more detailed information on a subject, click on the individual title. If you would like to go directly to the full detail information page click here.

The point values of the questions appearing on the two parts of the examination are combined such that the various sub-topics of the overall test have approximate weightings as shown below.

Disaster Medicine Classification System

Knowledge and Skills Weighting
1 Incident Command System:
Participates as a member of the disaster team under the structure of the Incident Command System
2 Preparation and Mitigation:
Participates in planning for disaster preparation and mitigation
3 Triage:
Performs triage as appropriate in the disaster environment
4 Public Health and Safety:
Advises on and coordinates aspects of public health and safety throughout the disaster life cycle
5 Psychosocial Considerations:
Provides psychosocial support as appropriate throughout the disaster life cycle
6 Support/Assistance:
Works with various groups and organizations (governmental, community, non-governmental, volunteers) to optimize support for disaster planning, response, and recovery
7 Communication/Documentation:
Maintains necessary communication and documentation
8 Regulatory/Legal/Ethical Principles:
Complies with regulatory and legal, as well as accepted moral and ethical, principles
9 Assessment and Treatment:
Assesses and treats injuries resulting from natural/non-natural and incidental/intentional causes in a variety of environments (urban, rural, austere)
10 Pathology 4%
11 Decontamination/PPE:
Follows appropriate decontamination principles and procedures

The questions on each part of the examination are four-choice multiple-choice questions. On part 1, each multiple-choice question has one and only one correct choice. You are asked to select the single correct choice (if only one of the four choices is correct) or the best choice (if more than one choice is potentially possible but one is clearly superior). On part 2, on the other hand, each question has at least one correct choice but there exists the possibility that as many as all four of the choices are correct. You are asked to indicate, for each choice, whether it IS or IS NOT correct.

Part 1 of the Examination. Your total score on this part of the examination will be the number of questions you answer correctly, with each question having the same weight (1 point per question). There is no penalty for guessing. Therefore, it is to your advantage to answer every question, even if you are unsure of the correct answer. It is recommended that when you are not certain of the correct answer you try to eliminate options that are not correct. This may increase your chances of selecting the correct answer, even if you have not been able to eliminate all the incorrect options.

Part 2 of the Examination. Your total score on this part of the examination will be the number of CHOICES you answer appropriately. In Part 2, you are required to rank each of the four choices in each question as CORRECT or NOT CORRECT.

Your question will look like a standard multiple choice item.

Potential surge facilities may include which of the following structures?
A. Shuttered hospitals or closed wards
B. Dialysis centers
C. Mobile medical facilities (Thursday Hospitals)
D. “Hospitals in a box”

Your answer box will ask you to categorize each answer as CORRECT or INCORRECT.


Each question has a maximum score of 4 points. The minimum score for each question is zero. You will receive

  • one point for each correct choice indicated as “correct”
  • one point for each incorrect choice indicated as “not correct”
  • a deduction of three-fourths of a point for each incorrect choice indicated as “correct”
  • a deduction of three-fourths of a point for each correct choice indicated as “not correct”
  • zero points for each option for which you make no selection
  • a zero “total score” if the sum of your points equals a zero or a negative value.

The correct options are: A, C, and D. The only incorrect option is B.

For the item used in the example, if you were to indicate A as correct, B and D as incorrect, and left option C blank, you would be awarded the following points for the item based on the choices you made:

A – Because A is CORRECT, and you indicated CORRECT, you would earn 1 point;
B – Because B is NOT CORRECT and you indicated it as NOT CORRECT, you would earn 1 point;
C – C is CORRECT, but you did not indicate whether or not the option is correct, you would receive zero points;
D – Because D is CORRECT and you indicated it as NOT CORRECT, you would receive a penalty of -0.75.

Therefore, your choices would result in your earning the following total score for this question:
1 + 1 + 0 + (-0.75) = 1.25.

Examination Part Type of Questions Approximate Number of Questions Maximum Time Allotted *
1 Multiple-Choice questions with one correct option. Select one correct or best option. 160 3 hours
2 Multiple Choice questions with one to four correct options. Indicate for each option, whether it is CORRECT or NOT CORRECT. 50 2 hours
* Time allotment includes the amount of time to complete a short introduction with directions and sample item.

Disaster Medicine Examination Study References

You may wish to use the study materials to prepare for the written certification or recertification examinations. The Examinations Committee uses these references to create questions for the examinations.

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Accommodations for Religious Reasons and Disabilities. Click here to see the complete policy for accommodations.

To learn more about American Journal of Disaster Medicine, click here and for AJDM subscription information, click here.