Elective Years 1 and 2: Wilderness Medicine

Department: Family Medicine
Title: Wilderness Medicine
Location: University of Alberta

12 hours required; 16 hours of instruction available


Faculty Leads

Dr John Chmelicek Chmelice@ualberta.ca
**Choose Dr Chmelicek as preceptor in Assess.Med

Dr Alexei Khair alexei.km@gmail.combeever@ualberta.ca

Dr Kendra Young kkyoung@ualberta.ca

Student Leads

Paul Rakoczy rakoczy@ualberta.ca

Amanda Brissenden brissend@ualberta.ca

Austin Beever beever@ualberta.ca

***To register for this elective, a Google Form will be sent out to all Year 1 and 2 students via email in September.  This email will include the proposed curriculum and timeline for the year.


To expose students to wilderness medicine and prepare them to embrace their leadership role when participating in outdoor activities, the Wilderness Medicine Club, along with Dr John Chmelicek, Dr Alexei Khair and Dr Kendra Young developed this 12-hour pre-clerkship elective focused on Wilderness Medicine Training. This elective consists of eight 2-hour sessions focusing on the following topics:

  1. Intro to Wilderness Medicine
    a.Simple evacuation techniques, lifts and carries
  2. Primary survey and critical interventions
  3. Wounds, wound closures and splinting
  4. Altitude medicine
  5. Dive medicine
  6. Management of hypo and hyperthermia
  7. Survival skills
  8. Group rescue simulation
    a. Students will practice performing some of the wilderness medicine skills they learnt through the year
Content delivery will include lecture-style presentations, hands-on practice and suggested resources for continued learning.  Some sessions will take place in an outdoor setting (weather permitting) and others will be in the classroom.

To encourage safe and responsible attitudes among our members while engaging in outdoor activities, the Wilderness Medicine Club will also arrange additional events that do not count toward the 12-hour elective requirement.

Depending on the interest and availability of instructors, these may include opportunities such as:

  • Wilderness First Aid Responder (20-hour) course
  • Avalanche Skills Training course (AST-1 or AST-2)
  • Glacier Travel/Rope Rescue Course
  • River Rescue course

Ultimately, we believe that organizing these courses together with the 12-hour elective will not only provide the students insight on the acute management of patients but will also gain an understanding on how to prevent back country emergencies.

**These additional sessions will not be taught by faculty members, and participation in these sessions will not count as credit toward the completion of the elective.


Completing this elective should:

  • Develop the knowledge and clinical skills required to treat common wilderness medicine emergencies and conditions, with prevention as a primary focus;
  • Gain an understanding of the unique considerations when providing care in an austere environment;
  • Develop sport-specific safety skills to be a leader and advocate for safety and prevention in the outdoor community;
  • Improve awareness about the Wilderness Medicine Society and the Fellowship in Wilderness Medicine.
Additional Notes:


  • Undergraduate medical students at the University of Alberta
  • Students must be in their pre-clerkship years
  • Application Deadline: September 30, 2022
  • Successful completion of this elective will require students to meet the 12-hr requirement over the course of one academic year
  • Deadline for elective and evaluation completion in Assess.Med:
    • Year 1 - March 31
    • Year 2 - April 30
  • A maximum of 45 students may enroll in this elective. The limitation is placed to facilitate the delivery of the year-end simulation session. Although priority will be given to students registered in this elective, students not enrolled in this elective may participate in the classroom sessions and additional learning opportunities if openings exist.

Priority Policy: In order to utilize all available elective times, priority will be given to earlier applications. Students are to apply as early as possible.

  • Leaders of the Wilderness Medicine Club will be tasked with recording students' attendance at each of the sessions. After the sessions have been completed, Dr. John Chmelicek, Dr Alexei Khair and Dr Kendra Young will be informed regarding which students have successfully completed the elective. Drs. Chmelicek, Khair and Young will then complete each student's evaluation via http://assess.med.ualberta.ca.

Note: Any student that is registered in the elective but fails to attend a minimum of 12 hours of instructed sessions, will be brought to the attention of Drs. Chmelicek, Khair and Young. It will be at their discretion as to whether the student will need to complete an additional assessment (e.g. written paper) or whether they fail to receive credit for the elective.

Last Updated: September 22, 2023