Medical Education: Outcomes and Opportunities| Volume 336, ISSUE 2, P142-146, August 2008

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Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Medical Student Academic Performance: The Tulane Experience



      Hurricane Katrina forced the temporary closure of Tulane University School of Medicine requiring relocation to the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas. This required curricular restructuring, and resulted in faculty/student challenges. The effect of these stresses on student performance was studied.


      A pre-Katrina and post-Katrina comparative analysis of all Tulane medical students’ performance on standardized exams, internal examination and United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) step exams was performed. A one-way analysis of variance was used to determine if mean examination scores differed from pre-Katrina to post-Katrina.


      Internal examination scores did not differ significantly. National standardized examination grades significantly decreased pre-Katrina to post-Katrina in Biochemistry, Pharmacology, Pathology, Medicine, Pediatrics and Psychiatry (P < 0.05). There was no statistical change in USMLE scores.


      Tulane students had a statistically significant decline in performance on many course and clerkship examinations, though overall performance on licensing examinations was unchanged. Many stresses may have affected students’ ability to perform.


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