Wilderness Medicine

Wilderness medicine encompasses the illnesses and injuries encountered by people in austere and remote environments.

Wilderness Medicine Dr Bill LukinWilderness Medicine Dr Julian Williams

The scope of wilderness medicine combines traditional medical specialities, particularly emergency medicine, sports medicine, military medicine and general practice, with pre-hospital care and rescue skills. These environments  pose unique medical challenges related to preparedness and prevention, extreme locations, evacuation difficulties, prolonged care, resource and personnel management and particular patterns of illness and injury.

The curriculum for wilderness medicine consists of :
  • Trauma
  • Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine
  • High altitude and Mountaineering medicine
  • Heat and cold illness
  • Toxinology
  • Tropical and Travel Medicine
  • Expedition medicine
  • Field craft and equipment
  • Rescue and evacuation
  • Sports medicine and physiology
  • Preventative medicine, sanitation and hygeine
  • Disaster and humanitarian assistance
The Wilderness Medical Society is a US-based international non-profit organisation devoted to wilderness medicine education and research.  The WMS produces the peer-reviewed Wilderness and Environmental Medicine Journal as well as Practice Guidelines and online Lecture Series.  In addition, the WMS provides the Fellowship of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine based around a core curriculum and experience in wilderness medicine activities.
The International Society for Mountain Medicine focuses on scientific and practical aspects of mountain medicine and publishes the High Altitude Medicine and Biology journal.
There are numerous providers of wilderness medicine courses.  These vary from short first aid courses for the lay person to expeditions designed for health professionals.  They are a great way to stimulate or consolidate your interest in wilderness medicine.  Here are a few to choose from:


New Zealand

United States

United Kingdom

Wilderness medicine unites doctors, nurses and paramedics by their desire to use their medical skills as a passport for adventure and to continually challenge themselves professionally out of their comfort zone.

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    • says

      Cheers Fran
      The team is building to incorporate the wonderfully diverse nature of medicine and all its nuances.
      Sean is a top bloke who is running a great adventure medicine program. Hopefully we will see all kinds of weird and wonderful stuff from him in the coming months!

  1. Erin says

    Remote Medical International also offers advanced wilderness medical training, from wilderness first aid to a Wilderness EMT course, and even remote medicine for the advanced provider. They offer courses all over North America.

    Check out http://www.remotemedical.com

  2. Paul Hui says

    Hi Sean,
    I have just returned from Spain, after walking the 800 kilometer Camino de Santiago. I share your passion in Wilderness and Remote Medicine. Public hospital work depresses me and often gives me the sense of helplessness.
    I re-discover myself, whenever I go to remote place, knowing that I have the skills, knowledge and confidence as an emergency physician to save life and relieve sufferings. I taught courses in PNG, traveled to Antarctica and worked with NGOs in war-torn countries. I recommend Wilderness medicine to any EPs with good physical fitness. Doing a course is the way to start. The New Zealand AWLS course is great. I went to the March one and still learned lots from experts in the field. Cheers, Paul

  3. Thomas Garrett says

    I’m doing some research and trying to find a remote medicine course. I am a paramedic living in Australia but working in PNG and really want to expand my knowledge. There are courses in North America and NZ. Any advice ??