Scholarly Concentration in Wilderness Medicine (SCWM)

The Scholarly Concentration in Wilderness Medicine certifies that the recipient has completed at least 320 hours of study (self-directed, didactic, practical/hands on) and has demonstrated a working knowledge of the principles and approaches to wilderness medicine. This course of study provides students an experience beyond the scope of their conventional curriculum and translates personal interests and activities into scholarship. The field of Wilderness Medicine encompasses disaster relief, travel, and expedition medicine and prepares physicians to practice in these unique environments.

UNR Med Medical Students who earn a Scholarly Concentration in Wilderness Medicine will:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the common injuries and illnesses encountered in the wilderness environment;
  • Discuss the unique considerations of the treatment and logistics for providing care in austere environments;
  • Develop and practice skills to diagnosis and treat injuries and illness encountered in the wilderness environment;
  • Produce a scholarly work which advances an area in wilderness medicine and present the results.

Scholarly Concentration in Wilderness Medicine topics:

  • Heat Illness
  • Cold injuries
  • Hypothermia
  • High Altitude
  • Lightning
  • Wilderness Trauma
  • Bites, Stings & Zoonosis
  • Travel Medicine
  • Marine /Aquatic Medicine
  • The Unexpected night out
  • Search & Rescue
  • Wildland fire science

Structure of the Scholarly Concentration in Wilderness Medicine program:

  • Program will have a Course Coordinator/Director who will create application, policy, longitudinal activities plan, identify mentors; supervise and implement
  • Concentration will be open to MS1.
  • Students must enroll and begin work on Wilderness Medicine Concentration by Spring Recess of year one
  • Students will work with the course coordinator to develop a plan for earning the Scholarly Concentration. Students will be responsible for logging hours and maintaining a portfolio describing topics covered, activities, self-assessments, and examining areas for growth
  • Coordinator may serve as a mentor or may identify and coordinate another mentor for students
  • Students will meet with course coordinator at least twice annually and will have quarterly meetings with mentor
  • Required 8 weeks of time (320) hours over 2 ½ - 3 ½ years

Activities are sorted in levels I through IV, with minimum requirements for each level:




Level I

(Learn About)

Minimum 50 hrs

Read articles or books or attend lectures, webinars, conferences related to Wilderness Medicine and prepare brief highlight reports. Mandatory attendance at the Spring Recess program (at the beginning of SC work).

Level II (Do)

Minimum 75 hrs

Participate in activities in topic areas related to Wilderness Medicine, review the literature and apply principles to skills development. Log activities, plans and impressions.

Level III (Refine)

Minimum 75 hrs

Lead activities in topic areas related to Wilderness Medicine, review the literature and apply principles to clinical exam findings, basic physiology, and development of becoming a medical resource for wilderness/adventure/outdoor organizations.

Level IV(Demonstrate Scholarship)

Minimum 50 hrs 

A scholarly project is required for completion of the SCWM. This can consist of research, case report, book chapter, etc. Although a traditional research project is not required, it is strongly encouraged as further study of the field of wilderness medicine is greatly needed.

Scholarly concentration activities (not an exhaustive list):


  • Overnight - intro, Evaluation techniques, What's in your bag?
  • Intro to travel medicine and global health
  • Hike: Pediatrics in the wilderness.
  • Overnight North American Environments


  • Overnight Lightning injuries
  • Hike: Altitude, MSK evaluation
  • Snow shoe: Creating liters - Sam splints, Cold injuries
  • Overnight Lake Tahoe Dive and marine medicine


  • Hike: The unexpected night out, Self-reliance
  • Hike: Night experience, Heat illness
  • Snow shoe: Search and rescue
  • 4th year elective: FCM 661MM
  • Scholarly Project Completed by April of year 4.

For more information or to enroll in the Scholarly Concentration in Wilderness Medicine, please contact:

Arthur Islas, M.D., MPH, FAWM, CAQ-Sports Medicine
Sports Medicine Fellowship Director; Professor, Department of Family & Community Medicine