Wilderness Medical Training (Part 2)

Posted by Jeremy Windsor on Jul 18, 2019

Inspired by Dr Pete Colledge's post about Wilderness Medical Training (WMT)'s "Expedition Medicine" course, Dr Emily Watts signed up for their "Expedition Medicine and Field Skills" course. Here's what she discovered,

'This week-long course, set in the stunning Chamonix valley, is an exciting opportunity to learn and refresh medical and non-medical skills relating to the outdoors, whilst networking and gaining inspiration from a bunch of likeminded individuals. Attracting delegates from across Europe, this year’s international cohort provided a wide breadth of experiences, both of medicine and adventures. With the end of my Foundation Programme fast approaching, and some Taster Leave left over, this course sounded like a perfect combination of my interests. I was keen to explore how broadly my medical degree can be used, and whether combining my love of travel and the outdoors with a career in medicine is possible.

The perfect learning environment!

The course blends a series of lectures, seminars and practical sessions, all focussing on the application of knowledge and skills to the pre-hospital and expedition environments. The impressive Mont Blanc range provides a spectacular backdrop, as well as hosting the group for practical sessions, as well as a bivouac midweek (this year at the Plan du Midi, ~2300m). The course also incorporates time for a hike, guided by International Mountain Leaders who are eager to share their phenomenal amount of local knowledge and mountain lore. An introduction to glacier trekking is an optional extra and provides the perfect opportunity to learn basic crampon and ice climbing skills, as well as including a “Via Ferrata” to get down onto the glacier itself.

WMT’s impressive faculty bring a range of skills and knowledge built through lifetimes spent exploring and adventuring across the globe, in a variety of roles. The ‘Insight’ lectures that the faculty put on in the evenings (accompanied by wine and nibbles), where they talked about aspects of their careers were truly inspirational. For example, WMT Director Baz Roberts told of his summit of Everest, whilst MIC/IML Nigel Williams described his experiences guiding Scottish teenagers through treks across Greenland with The Polar Academy.

The bivouac was my personal highlight of the course – watching the sunset on the Chamonix Valley whilst eating cheese fondue; dodging pockets of snow as the whole group played an animated game of “Anka , Anka, Gås” (Swedish ‘Duck, Duck, Goose’); learning Swedish Midsummer rituals and songs, to finally falling asleep with spectacular views of the stars and peaks. (There was the option to camp rather than bivvy, but where’s the fun in that?).

Whilst I am still unsure of exactly how to achieve my goals, I have returned home with a mind full of ideas and suggestions to get me started. I cannot recommend the experience highly enough. Further information can be found here.

A 40% discount on course fees is available for any students reading this post".

Dr Emily Watts is an FY2 Doctor about to embark on an FY3 in Cumbria, undertaking a Clinical Fellowship in Emergency and Pre-Hospital Medicine. An outdoor enthusiast, she is particularly fond of water-sports, and is aiming to finally finish ‘bagging’ the Wainwrights whilst based in the Lake District. She is hoping to create a medical career that facilitates maximum time outdoors.

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