PROFESSIONAL GROWTH: Making a case for wilderness medicine education
R. Bryan Simon RN, CNOR, FAWM

July 2012 
Volume 42  Number 7
Pages 32 - 35
  PDF Version Available!

I DON'T REMEMBER the motorcyclist's name, but I'll never forget him. We crossed paths between life and death on a beautiful late spring day in North Cascades National Park in Washington State. I was with my wife and friends, enjoying the amazing scenery of the region. Driving up a short incline toward a mountain pass, we watched helplessly as the man lost control of his motorcycle on a gravel-filled turn and collided with the guardrail at the edge of a cliff. We immediately pulled over and attempted to help him, but it was no use. He died on a lonely stretch of road far from the nearest hospital.Despite my extensive nursing knowledge and years of education, the care I could provide was limited. I'd read about wilderness medicine, but until that day I hadn't considered my need for it. My feeling of helplessness led me to correct that deficiency and ultimately made me a better nurse.The most commonly accepted definition of wilderness medicine is the practice of medicine where definitive care is more than 1 hour away, resources are limited, and care must be continued over an extended period.1 Wilderness medicine means caring for injured or sick people in the middle of nowhere without the clinical resources found in a hospital setting, often under adverse environmental conditions.Other names for wilderness medicine include expedition medicine and medicine for the outdoors. Two closely related and often overlapping fields include disaster medicine and humanitarian medicine.Many nurses who aren't avid backpackers, climbers, boaters, or outdoor enthusiasts are skeptical about their need to learn about wilderness medicine. But you don't have to be participating in these activities to encounter a wilderness medicine situation.Almost weekly, we read about deadly disasters: a hurricane on the Gulf Coast, tornadoes in the Midwest and Southeast, a terrorist bombing in Europe, or an earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear contamination in Japan. If a natural disaster hit your hometown,

Purchase Now !

To purchase this item, follow the instructions below. If you’re not already logged in, be sure to enter your login information below to ensure that your item is saved to your File Drawer after you purchase it.

Not a member? Join now for Free!

1) If you're not already logged in, enter your information below to save this item in your File Drawer for future viewing.

User name:


Forgot your user name or password?
2)  If you have a coupon or promotional code, enter it
here.(If not, just click Continue.

Digital Coupon: (optional)

3)  Click Continue to go to the next screen, where
you'll enter your payment details.

jQuery UI Accordion - Default functionality

For life-long learning and continuing professional development, come to Lippincott's NursingCenter.

Nursing Jobs Plus
Featured Jobs
Recommended CE Articles

Blunt Chest Trauma
Journal of Trauma Nursing, November/December 2014
Expires: 12/31/2016 CE:2 $21.95

The School Age Child with Congenital Heart Disease
MCN, The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, January/February 2015
Expires: 2/28/2017 CE:2.5 $24.95

Understanding multiple myeloma
Nursing Made Incredibly Easy!, January/February 2015
Expires: 2/28/2017 CE:2 $21.95

More CE Articles

Subscribe to Recommended CE

Recommended Nursing Articles

Comprehensive Care: Looking Beyond the Presenting Problem
Journal of Christian Nursing, January/March 2015
Free access will expire on March 2, 2015.

Pain and Alzheimer dementia: A largely unrecognized problem
Nursing Made Incredibly Easy!, January/February 2015
Free access will expire on February 16, 2015.

Glycemic control in hospitalized patients
Nursing2015 Critical Care, January 2015
Free access will expire on February 16, 2015.

More Recommended Articles

Subscribe to Recommended Articles

Evidence Based Practice Skin Care Network NursingCenter Quick Links What’s Trending Events