Teaching Assistant Overview

The University of Colorado School of Medicine’s Wilderness & Environmental Medicine Section seeks students and community members interested in wilderness medicine who wish to continue learning about austere medicine, reinforcing and honing hands-on skills, practicing leadership abilities, and possibly earning re-certification by serving as a volunteer teaching assistant (TA).

Duties and Responsibilities

TA are responsible for making the class a better learning experience for students, helping make the teaching load a bit easier on the instructor, and ensuring the TA learns and grows from the experience.   Specific tasks include:

– Helping with classroom logistics including gear, paperwork, snacks, set-up and cleanup, and sometimes trouble shooting technical issues

– Directing crowd control, especially managing efficient student movements during transitions

– Teaching hands-on skills to small groups

– Independently leading and facilitating small group scenarios/simulations

– Identifying and working with struggling students to help them succeed in class

– Helping lead adventure activities (rock climbing, hikes, paddling, snowshoeing, etc.)

– For summer Colorado WFR classes, belaying climbers (for those belay certified)

– Providing feedback to the instructional team on progress and enhancing the learning environment

– For those with advanced training, and the desire, there is also opportunity to lecture


TAs can serve during an entire class or they can come in just for the hands-on portions of the class (labs, skill sessions, and especially scenarios).  We seek TAs for a wide variety of classes, ranging from one day to two weeks in length, and including WFA, WFR, AWLS, and our own unique offerings such as Wildland Firefighting First Aid, Disaster Response Advanced First Aid, or Wilderness Emergency Canine Care.


Generally there is no out of pocket cost to serving as a TA.  Compensation for serving as TA is the learning and experience, there is no financial compensation.  TAs can also be certified (or re-certified) in the course with which they are assisting, assuming they demonstrate competency in skills and pass the written final at no cost, with the exception of Wilderness Life Support for the Medical Professional (there is a deeply discounted $200 fee which we must pay AdventureMed, the company that runs the class).  For TAs who do a superior job, I also frequently write strong letters of recommendation to med school, residencies, etc.  For the Costa Rica TA opportunities there is an $900 land cost to help defray lodging, meals, tours and adventures, land transport, and tips. 


TAs are responsible for their own transportation to the class, though transport that is provided as part of the class (once the class starts) is covered.  Housing and meals are provided at camps, once on Santa Rosa Island (Channel Islands class), and at Hacienda Baru.  Housing in Denver, Miami, or other metro areas is not provided; we generally recommend and can help facilitate, that TAs find their own shared housing at local hotels or AirBnBs.

Required and Preferred Experience, Knowledge, Attributes

We seek TAs who are personable, self-directed, diverse, skilled, flexible, and knowledgeable.  Having previously taken the course (or similar course) or trained at a higher level is required.  We prefer candidates who are familiar with our ways and systems of teaching, (they have taken a class with us previously) but this is not required.  While not necessary, training and/or experience beyond what is being taught in the class is highly valued and makes a candidate much more viable for these competitive roles.  For instance, for a class that is certifying in WFR, working ski patrol, SAR, EMT, scribing, or similar training or experience is ideal, or for a WFA class having been certified in WFR.  For summer Colorado classes we value climbing experience and especially belay certification, as well as lifeguard certification.  For Costa Rica classes we value Spanish speakers.

Application Process

To apply to become a TA please e-mail to Todd Miner (todd.miner@ucdenver.edu) with the following:

  1. The identity of the class(es) for which you would like to serve as a TA.
  2. A brief description of your attributes, skills, experiences, knowledge, etc. that will help make the class better for the students and easier for the instructor.
  3. A brief description of what you hope to gain from the experience
  4. A copy of your resume or CV and at least two references

Final selections of TAs are generally made approximately 3 months prior to the class.  For questions about serving as a TA or the process for applying, please reach out to Todd.