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Wilderness Medicine Fellowship

Competency-Based Goals and Objectives

The goal of the fellowship is to train physicians to prepare for medical emergencies in austere environments, manage the potential medical needs of a population entering into an austere environment, and both respond and manage a broad array of emergencies that may occur in that environment. This preparation will result from the provision of a strong background in wilderness medicine skills, theory and competencies. In addition to theory, our department includes clinical practice at a tertiary care center and a critical access island hospital. The Pacific Ocean, several mountain peaks up to 11,000 feet, and the high desert are all easily accessible from our campus.

Should the trainee pursue a career in academic medicine, they would possess the skills to serve as a director of instructional Wilderness Medicine or in a leadership capacity for the curriculum undergraduate or graduate medical education.
Fellows will learn through organized didactics, projects, technical skills courses and clinical experience. During the fellowship the trainee will develop and implement at least two longitudinal educational projects.

  • The first project must have a scholarly component that leads to presentations or publication.
  • The second project can include, and is not limited to:
    • The development of his manual technical skills with additional training such as:
      • Mountain medicine/ Alpinism Courses
      • Search and rescue courses
      • Diving and hyperbaric courses
      • Attending and provide training with local public safety agencies
    • Collaborate in national and international projects and opportunities (subject to limited availability per year):
      • Divers Alert Network
      • Ultramarathons or sports events
      • Collaboration with the University of Hawaii on marine envenomation
      • Himalayan Rescue Association
      • London School of Tropical Medicine

In addition to these projects and training the fellow must also:

  • Integrate Wilderness Medicine topics into the Emergency Medicine resident’s residency curriculum, journal clubs, medical student and civilian interest groups.
  • Participate in Emergency Medicine rounds and present a minimum of two Wilderness Medicine lectures.
  • Serve as a mentor to residents and medical students interested in Wilderness Medicine. More Info
  • Development of Wilderness Medicine related educational initiatives though online courses, social media platform and/or podcasts
  • Contribute to the design and direction of the annual multihospital resident field training exercise in wilderness medicine. More Info
  • Support wilderness medicine education aspects of the Mammoth Mountain Emergency Medicine Conference. More Info
  • Practice clinically for a minimum of three weeks per year at a critical access hospital, Catalina Island Medical Center, 26 miles off of the coast of southern California.
  • Encouraged to attend and participate in wilderness related national and international conferences.

Core competencies to achieve this goal an objective include:

  • Didactics
  • Clinical Experience
  • Research Skills
  • Technical Skills
  • Leadership Skills

Program Length

12 months or 24 months

Degree Options

Fellows may choose to pursue a degree during the fellowship. If the fellow chooses to pursue a degree then they must extend their fellowship to two years. Otherwise, this is a one-year fellowship.

Recommended degrees:

  • Master’s in Public health
  • Master of Science in Environmental Health Sciences
  • http://www.medicine.uci.edu/occupational/graduate.asp
  • Fellows have the opportunity to propose a master’s program in line with their career goals

Sample Curriculum

Teaching Modules will be grounded on Auerbach’s Wilderness Medicine book and supplemental reading included bellow. Each module is taught through 1 hour, biweekly didactics conducted by WM Division staff. These meeting are open to residents, staff, and other members of the UCI EM community.

Module 1 – Introduction to Wilderness Medicine and research planning
Module 2 - Mountain Medicine – High altitude, lightning, avalanche
Module 3 - Heat and Cold
Module 4 - Burns, Fire and Radiation
Module 5 – Wilderness Injuries and Medical Interventions – includes prevention, care, analgesia, improvised management techniques.
Module 6 - Rescue and Survival – Includes EMS/pre-hospital personnel guidelines, technical rescue, care during wilderness situations such as in a cave, safe transfers and care inside helicopters and, essentials of short and long term survival.
Module 7 - Animals, Insects, Zoonoses, plants identification and toxic ingestions – prevention, bites and envenomation.
Module 8 – Basics of navigation. Incident Command System: asynchronous learning via DHS
Module 9 - Food and Water - water disinfection, infectious diarrhea, nutrition, malnutrition, and starvation.
Module 10 - Marine Medicine - drowning, dive medicine and hyperbaric oxygen.
Module 11 – Disaster medicine
Module 12 - Equipment and Special Knowledge - wilderness equipment and supplies, outdoor clothing, navigation techniques, risk avoidance during travel, development of a medical support plan and management.

Field Experience and technical skill building

We highly encourage the fellow to pick a wilderness experience or training of their choice to solidify theory learned in the classroom. The division will accommodate this activity around other clinical and fellowship duties.

Fellowship Faculty

Fellowship Director

Isabel Algaze MD ialgazeg@uci.edu
Assistant Professor, Emergency Medicine UC, Irvine
Wilderness Medicine Fellowship, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Emergency Medicine Residency, University of Puerto Rico Hospital, San Juan, PR
Experience in international medicine, including high altitude, disaster preparedness, sports event medicine, expedition and travel medicine
Hyperbaric trained with experience in dive medicine

Associate Fellowship Director

Robert Katzer MD MBA  rkatzer@uci.edu 
Associate Professor, Emergency Medicine UC, Irvine
EMS Fellowship (Board Certified), UC, Irvine
Emergency Medicine Residency, Washington Hospital Center, Washington DC
Experience in wilderness EMS, international, rural HEMS
Air Medic, San Bernardino Sheriff Air Rescue Team
Medical Officer, CA-1 DMAT, National Disaster Medical System

Support Faculty

Michael J. Burns, MD mburns@uci.edu
Professor Emeritus, Emergency Medicine & Infectious Diseases, UC Irvine
Board Certified: Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Geriatric Medicine
Internal Medicine Residency and Infectious Diseases Fellowship, UC Irvine
Diploma Course in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Expertise in biting arthropods, snakes and snakebites, infections from the wilderness and travel/tropical medicine

Jeffrey Suchard, MD jsuchard@uci.edu
Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine, UC Irvine 
Medical Toxicology Fellowship, Banner Good Samaritan, Phoenix AZ
Emergency Medicine Residency, UConn

Sangeeta Sakaria, MD MPH MST sakarias@uci.edu
Assistant Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine, UC Irvine
Assistant Program Director of Emergency Medicine Residency, UC Irvine
Emergency Medicine Clerkship Director, UC Irvine
Medical Director of Catalina Island Medical Center Emergency Department
Emergency Medicine Residency, University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago, IL
M.P.H. in Global Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston MA 
WMS DiMM certified and DDMM candidate
Experience in global health, international medicine, flight doctor and air rescue.

Application Requirements

Candidates are required to be Emergency Medicine trained and Board eligible. In addition to demonstrating scholastic achievement and a solid academic foundation, prospective Fellows should also have leadership experience and have participated in Wilderness Medicine related activities. Clinical exposure and research experience, as well as community service, are highly desirable. Candidates must submit a Curriculum Vita, Letter of Intent, USMLE step scores, and 2-3 letters of recommendation, including one from their program director. Possession of a certificate of EM program completion and a California Medical License are conditional on starting fellowship.

To apply email ialgazeg@uci.edu (please cc rkatzer@uci.edu)