Wilderness Medical Training (Part 1)

Posted by Jeremy Windsor on Apr 15, 2019

Dr Pete Colledge recently got in touch to recommend the recent Wilderness Medical Training event in Chamonix. Here's what he wrote...

"Like many doctors, I sometimes feel that the idea of a work / life balance is an alien concept. How does one keep up to date with evidence based medicine, pass exams, provide a level of patient care to feel proud of and achieve the goals, which are often just as demanding, that we place on ourselves outside of work? Whether that's juggling anaesthetic training or MRCP revision with training for a 10k, half marathon, marathon, or an Ironman! Or in my case, just chasing climbing grades and spending more time out in an environment that allows me to decompress and be happy and relaxed. 

For a while I have been contemplating how to more closely align my aspirational outdoor lifestyle with my desire to be a good doctor and to be able to excel at both. My initial thought was to apply to training posts in Sheffield, be closer to my favourite climbing crags and let training take its course. But, is there a way to intertwine the two? Can I use or pass on my climbing experience to help provide better care in the pre-hospital mountain environment, helping patients and other healthcare professionals feel more comfortable in potentially hostile situations? Can I give back to the mountain community, or is all of this just a pipe dream? 

A good way to earn some CPD points!

I went on the Wilderness Mountain Training (WMT) conference in Chamonix to try and answer just that. 

For those of you that haven't heard about it, the concept is simple: 1.) Go skiing in one of the most beautiful and inspiring mountain locations possible and 2.) listen to daily afternoon lectures from doctors with a vast range of exped medical experience and take part in practical sessions to increase your skillset. All done whilst 'networking', making friends and opening your eyes to the vast number of opportunities that exist if you have the impetus to seek them out and be persistent. 

Managing pelvic trauma in the field

I definitely haven't come away from it with all the answers, but I did come away with plenty of ideas. Most importantly, I left with the affirmation that I can be a strong participant in the process of shaping my training to ensure that it really suits me. In Chamonix I heard about the Clinical Fellow job in Anaesthetics, Critical Care and Mountain Medicine in Chesterfield for the second time. More than any other job advertised, I think this offers me the best chance to simultaneously learn, make the most of opportunities and contribute wherever I can. The WMT course has helped me test my beliefs, assess them and ensure that my goals are right so that I have the best chances of a successful application. 

Using a portable hyperbaric chamber

Perhaps you're in the same position and the WMT conference next year could provide you with the drive to follow your dreams? On the other hand, it may just be a fun jolly in the mountains that gives you a few CPD points and some interesting learning opportunities - splinting broken limbs and using pelvic binders in adverse conditions, trying your hand at ice climbing and learning high altitude physiology. Either way, I'd urge you to check it out: 


But, don't wait until next year, there are plenty of opportunities right around the corner if you look hard enough!"

Dr Pete College is an F3 doctor with a lot of outdoor interests including skiing, climbing and mountaineering. He hopes to move into anaesthetic training. The Peak District and Scotland are his favourite outdoor destinations.

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