Clerkship Coordinator: 
Justin Rade
(520) 621-5300

EMD 850B - Wilderness Medicine & Advanced Wilderness Life Support

Special Note: 

This course is now available to non-UA students. Applications may be submitted through VSAS.

The course final practical takes place in the wilderness on the final Saturday of the course.

AWLS certification is available for a fee of $175, payable by check to ADVENTUREMED. The certification is not required for the course. Credit will be issued for the course with, or without it.

Fourth-Year Only
March 30, 2020 to April 10, 2020
Open to 4th year students
Course Director: 
Christopher G. Williams, MD
Contact Phone: 
(520) 621-5300




Didactic lectures in the classroom and practical sessions in the wilderness. Didactics will take place Monday-Thursday for 2 weeks with AWLS certification exam at completion. The practical session in a wilderness setting will take place at a location TBD on the last Saturday of the rotation. Students will be broken into smaller groups to encounter scenarios where they will take charge, assign roles and apply learned skills. Each group will be observed/evaluated by a faculty member or lecturer on the following goals:

  1. To develop an appreciation for medicine in the wilderness and austere environments.
  2. Earn certification in Advanced Wilderness Life Support (AWLS). (The certification is optional and requires an additional $175 fee)
  3. Develop an organized, systemic method for approaching and assessing a patient in various wilderness settings.
  4. Specifically understand unique diagnosis and treatment for the following wilderness-related topics: altitude, avalanche, heat-induced injuries, cold-induced injuries, lightning, submersion, dive medicine, water disinfection, dentistry, dermatology, eye injuries, ENT injuries, infectious diseases, musculoskeletal injuries, wound management and common medical problems.
  5. To be able to plan for potential medical problems based on group size and type of activity. Then, to be able to improvise and adapt when the unforeseen occurs.
  6. To develop appropriate triage and multitasking abilities for various scenarios including multi-patient casualties.
  7. In a practical setting, be able to fashion various splints, dressings, tourniquets and litters with improvised materials.
  8. In a practical setting, be able to approach a patient, secure the environment, diagnose pathology, provide treatment, arrange evacuation and communicate this to those involved.
  9. To see beyond Wilderness Medicine as "vacation medicine" or "doctor tourism" to its true applicability in austere or impromptu environments, such as rural, humanitarian or mass casualty settings.