Dr Nick Knight - Expedition Medicine Facualty
Dr Nick Knight - Expedition Medicine University Liaison (c) Mark Hannaford FRGS

Expedition Medicine’s UK Course Welcomes their University Liaison

With the sunshine out and the rasping sounds of the Search and Rescue Teams over the two-way radios out on the Cumbria hills – you would have been easily mistaken in thinking you were in the middle of a real emergency. In fact, it was the final Search and Rescue exercise (with CASEVAC) of a fantastic 4 day Expedition Medicine Course in Keswick in Cumbria.

As the University Liaison for Expedition Medicine, it was the first course that I attended as a new member of the ‘EM faculty’ – and what a fantastic experience it was. Not only did I get to absorb the electric atmosphere of the 60+ delegates there alongside the seasoned expedition medics leading the course but it gave me ample opportunity to see how such courses can align themselves with my role as University Liaison and to stimulate a few more ideas.

To recap first of all – my role is all about information, information, information! – for without it what do we really have? Now, this information is specifically aimed at two groups of individuals:

  • University medical students with an interest for expedition medicine and wanting to learn more about the how’s, who’s and whens of this growing sub-discipline and,
  •  University medical students who may have never even heard of expedition medicine or the concept of providing medical cover in remote challenging environments

As University Liaison, these are my targets groups. So with this in mind, during the course I began thinking – how else can we reach out to this demographic? I decided the first step was communication; Communication by introducing myself on the course to the delegates and explaining my role. Although the majority are outside of my ‘target groups’ I am already extending the network/community of people who knows about my aims. To me that is a victory.

After the introductions it was time to start talking to people, finding out how they learned about the course, expedition and wilderness medicine at large, and what their motivations were. Four days later, on a long train journey back to Southampton I distilled it all down to three key relevant issues:

1) Problem: Once in the medical system, it can be hard to find time to develop time to develop expedition medicine skills and experience outside the ‘traditional training route’

Solution: Educate university medical students about this field early so they can plan ahead

2) Problem: Junior doctors do not have wide access to information on expedition medicine

Solution: As well as medical students, I should liaise with junior doctors at Deanery’s

3) Problem: What is the best way to reach spread the word in an ever busy healthcare world

Solution: Tell everyone! Asking delegates on the course to take my business card and give it to anyone involved in teaching junior doctors and/or medical students asking them to get in touch with me for more information. (I have happy to say they have).

I’ll say it again, “information, information, information!”. To this I’m going to add “communication”. After all, information is useless unless you can effectively communicate it.

Expedition Medicine is as much about the present as it is the future. As university students rise through the ranks and qualify – they deserve to know there are great opportunities to learn about expedition medicine on courses like this. I guarantee they won’t be disappointed.

Dr Nick Knight, University Liaison for Expedition Medicine