Elective Rotations

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Wilderness and Disaster Medicine Elective

The Wilderness and Disaster Medicine elective is designed to familiarize the senior medical student with the unique aspects of providing medical care in austere environments. At the end of the rotation, students will have a fund of knowledge that allows for a logical, controlled, and competent approach to emergencies uniquely encountered in wilderness and disaster scenarios.

Rotation overview


  • 1 month (April only)


Students will electively participate in any deployments of the State Medical Assistance Team (SMAT) mobile hospital during the month of instruction and (if desired and available) will maintain team membership for future deployments.


The bulk of the rotation is devoted to small group discussions and exercises. Initially students are exposed to the fields of wilderness and disaster medicine through classroom lectures. National on-line certification courses are also used. Completion of these courses all students to be qualified with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and to actively participate in the organized response to any disaster.

As the course progresses, students increasingly participate in field exercises to practice skills learned in the classroom. The course culminates with an overnight or weekend wilderness trip that allows students to use all information gained over the month.

Topics covered include marine medicine, underwater medicine, high altitude medicine, wilderness envenomation, wilderness navigation with and without GPS, disaster planning, disaster management and many more.


Students are assigned selected readings from wilderness medicine texts. Specific handouts and online material is also provided throughout the course.


Student grades are based on participation during didactics and field exercises and completion of online courses.


A thorough and informative orientation session is held for all students at which time they will receive their reading materials and further information as needed.

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