Wilderness Medicine

What would you do if something went wrong?


Whether you are a seasoned wilderness medicine professional or someone new to the field, the University of Colorado Section of Wilderness Medicine offers valuable resources and training for every step of your wilderness medicine education. Use this page to learn more about wilderness medicine, explore upcoming classes, and find additional resources to advance your education. 


  • What is Wilderness Medicine?
  • Wilderness Medicine at the University of Colorado
  • Wilderness Medicine Classes
    • Pre-med students (from any university)
    • Medical Professionals
    • Public
  • Upcoming Wilderness Medicine Events
  • Wilderness Medicine Instructors

What is Wilderness Medicine?

Wilderness Medicine is the art and science of taking care of people in remote, austere, or extreme settings. Some have defined it as being further than one hour from ‘definitive’ care, in the form or a clinic or hospital. Others have defined it simply as any situation where you need to rely on yourself or companions for care. Practitioners of wilderness medicine have famously been associated with seeing patients at the basecamp of Everest, the South Pole, in submarines, remote deserts, or in space. Yet the skills and principles of the field are more entrenched with traditional medical education, holding the primacy of the patient interview and the physical exam– in the absence of technology– as the core of patient care.

Wilderness medicine isn’t about holding on to antiquated aspects of care– it’s about how to use the best attributes of 21st century care in limited environments: how portable ultrasounds can diagnose fractures in the field; how new field dressings and tourniquet techniques can arrest life threatening hemorrhages; and how to practice high level medical decision making when you’re on your own.

Wilderness Medicine at the University of Colorado

Wilderness medicine is practiced by many throughout the world; however, few medical schools have embraced the field as passionately as the University of Colorado. In a hyper-specialized medical world with rapid advances in technology, we think wilderness medicine has a core place in the training of competent and compassionate providers.  We believe our trainees should be confident diagnosticians and caretakers in any environment on earth– that is the essence of our teaching philosophy.

Yet, wilderness medicine is also too much fun to just teach medical students! That’s why we’ve extended dozens of course offerings to college undergraduates, healthcare providers seeking continuing education, and laypeople in our communities. Our educational menu encompasses a wide swath of the scope and practice of wilderness medicine, including:

Pre-Med Classes

  • Get hands-on pre-med experience. Students from any college or university are invited to get a backstage pass into the world of medical school– though emergency department shadowing shifts, ambulance ride-alongs, cardiac dissection labs, ultrasonography, and chats with our admissions officers.
  • Earn course credit, through online offerings, or undergraduate college credits through CU, SUNY, and Cal Poly university systems.
  • Learn aspects of specialized environmental medicine disciplines, such as Marine Medicine in the Channel Islands National Park, and Tropical Medicine in Costa Rica.

Medical Professional Classes

  • Augment your hospital or clinic based medical skills to think about care in the canyon country of the American southwest or the in the remote mountains of Alaska.
  • Be an asset to your community in a humanitarian disaster, and of service to organizations providing relief overseas.
  • Go to Mars (well… actually the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah) for a simulated mission as a flight surgeon– to know the medical challenges of long-duration spaceflight, microgravity, and deep space radiation
  • Earn CME credits!

Public Classes

  • Learn safe, backcountry winter travel at the iconic 10th Mountain Huts in the Colorado Rockies.
  • Earn your Wilderness First Aid Certificate.
  • Learn what to do if your dog has a medical emergency while hiking.
Share This