April 27, 2021

Collaboration Through a Wilderness Medicine Journal Club

In the age of COVID-19, medical education has drastically increased the use of online lectures, conferences, and meetings. I realized this new virtual format would be well suited for a monthly journal club for residents and students in healthcare fields. As an EM doctor and Wilderness Medicine Fellow, I focused the series on wilderness and environmental medicine topics, subjects that are often lacking in medical education. I wanted to offer a resource for students to learn about these fields and, hopefully, get more people interested in wilderness medicine and the outdoors.

I contacted the wilderness medicine organizations of a few nearby medical schools to start. For the first two events, we had 10-20 students join from three schools. To continue promoting the series, I contacted the EMRA Wilderness Medicine Education Committee in addition to the Wilderness Medical Society (WMS) with postings on their Education Committee message boards. Interest has continued to grow and we had over 65 people online representing all levels of training for our most recent event. We also had people joining us from Canada and the UK!

A primary goal of these events is to teach students how to critique and present medical research papers. I hope that encouraging other students to join this series will help introduce and increase this skill early in training. More than 20 students have presented during the six journal clubs so far, and I am always looking for volunteers!

Click here for more information and access to the google drive.

Topics covered so far include heat illnesses, hypothermia, frostbite, altitude illnesses, drowning, and pit viper envenomation. During each session, we discuss one of the WMS practice guidelines and review and critique a related research paper. To wrap up, we work through cases that are prepared and presented by students. This allows students to consolidate topics covered in each event and allows for great group participation and interaction among peers in an educational setting.

We discuss various educational programs available including the Fellowship in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine offered by the WMS, the Diploma in Mountain Medicine (DiMM), Wilderness First Aid (WFA), and Advanced Wilderness Life Support (AWLS) programs with emphasis on how to include wilderness medicine in your career. Each event is now recorded and uploaded to our collaborative YouTube page for anyone unable to attend a live session. The journal club series has also been approved for credits towards your FAWM certification through the WMS.

Even with the slow return to pre-Covid type events, online training will likely continue to grow. I believe that programs like these can help us stay connected, make it easier to be involved, and will be a beneficial resource for supporting medical education.

Upcoming VTC Wilderness Medicine Journal Club events via zoom. Learn More.

Water Disinfection
May 26, 2021
7pm EST

Spinal Cord Protection
June 24, 2021
7pm EST

Justin Gardner DO
Virginia Tech Carilion Wilderness Medicine Fellow