Fellowships in Wilderness Medicine

November 28, 2014

Wilderness First Aid
Wilderness First Aid

The niche medical specialty known as Wilderness Medicine is not officially a subset of Aerospace Medicine, but similarities abound.  Both medical disciplines focus on normal healthy patients in abnormal environments.  Both fields have to consider unique medical conditions that affect individuals only in the most austere or extreme environments. Because wilderness medicine is by definition practiced in remote settings that often rely on evacuation by helicopter or fixed wing aircraft, a basic knowledge of aerospace medicine is also requirement for any wilderness medicine enthusiast.


Mountain Medicine in the Wasatch
Mountain Medicine in the Wasatch

As more and more physicians and other medical providers gain interest in the field of wilderness medicine, the standardization of curricula has arisen in an effort to increase the prestige of the budding field.  The increasing number of academic institutions beginning fellowships is evidence of  this growth.  Wilderness Medicine fellowships are not currently accredited by the ACGME and they have traditionally been fellowships reserved for Emergency Medicine physicians.Here is a list of the current academic organizations offering fellowships for physicians.  There are a number of other academic organizations currently developing new ones so this list is subject to change in the near future.


Auerbach's Wilderness Medicine
Auerbach's Wilderness Medicine

]If you're a doc that wants to marry your love for the outdoors and unique recreational activities with your career, but can't quite convince yourself an extra year or two of GME seems like a good idea, there is still hope!  Or if you're another type of medical provider that has a keen interest in wilderness, but the above fellowships are not available to you, read ahead.The Wilderness Medical Society (WMS) began offering the Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine™ (FAWM) in 2007 to allow a more flexible, self-guided curriculum to those who are unable or unwilling to complete a formal fellowship.The FAWM is not only for physicians.  To become a FAWM, one must accumulate 100 credits in three categories:

  1. Required Topics
  2. Electives
  3. Experience

The Wilderness Medical Society (WMS) describes the FAWM this way:"This initiative offers a means to identify those who have achieved a demanding set of requirements validating their training and experience in Wilderness Medicine for the assurances of patients, clients, and the public at large. Society members enroll in the Academy and, by completing lessons from a pre-established Wilderness Medicine curriculum as well as receiving credit for specific, identifiable experience; accumulate credit toward becoming a Fellow. Any current member of the Wilderness Medical Society who successfully completes the requirements will have the distinction of being a registered member of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine and entitled to use the designation Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine (FAWM) and may reference it on resumes, business cards, and advertisements."For more information and the specific requirements, check out the WMS' website page on how to become a Fellow.  Here are the FAQ.Right now, I'm just a lowly candidate working my way towards the FAWM.  Just another excuse for more fun adventures in the great outdoors!

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