HEALER, HEAL THYSELF:
CURING WHAT AILS THE PUBLIC
We have already seen how quickly infectious disease can spread through a population, and the particular rapidity of spread that is likely during a large-scale bioterrorism attack. Unfortunately for the public at large, physicians receive lackluster training during their education when it comes to the management of epidemic disease. In fact, they are generally taught very little about diseases of public health importance, such as whooping cough, measles, and even influenza, let alone the more exotic organisms that might be used in a terror attack such as smallpox, anthrax, or plague. These are diseases that, once they attain a foothold in a dense human population, such as a medium-size to large city, can wreak havoc in both economic and human costs.
Physicians in medical school are also rarely exposed to the way the public health system operates. It is even less likely that they've taken a course that recognizes public health as a critical component in our modern medical system. The value of public health in preventing or intervening to stop epidemic disease from taking place has never been emphasized. Broadly speaking, physicians today only learn about public health if they decide to pursue a position in the field as part of their post-graduate training for medical school.