During our Expedition and Wilderness Medicine course held at Plas y Brenin during May, 2016 we had an ever helpful intern named Sarah. Here’s what she thought of the course..
Plas y Brenin Expedition and Wilderness Medicine Course – Student Internship
I arrived in Plas y Brenin to a picturesque scene of mountains, lakes and even sunshine. This spectacular landscape was still visible from the hostel bar, which I entered to find many other excited course attendees, some of whom had travelled hundreds of miles to attend the Plas y Brenin Expedition and Wilderness Medicine course.
I was extremely fortunate to attend the course as an intern, which meant that apart from occasionally helping with setup and with time-keeping (there was a lot to pack in!), I was able to participate in all of the course activities and lectures. It was a fantastic opportunity to gain invaluable experience in an area of medicine which definitely appeals to my adventurous side!
In short, the high quality of the course is a reflection of the skills and expertise of the faculty. Aside from their vast range of experience in extreme and emergency medicine, they are a very social group of people. During my time as an intern it was great to be able to talk with them, especially after hearing inspiring stories of adventures, sporting achievements and how people have overcome obstacles to succeed.
The course itself was structured to include a range of teaching styles featuring sessions both indoors and outdoors. Group sessions such as stretcher building, communication skills and the much loved interactive dental session ensure everyone on the course gets to know each other pretty well.
Other practical skills covered include how to make rehydration salts and safe drinking water, as well as essential non-medical skills such as outdoor navigation and rope skills.
Indoor learning focused on expeditions in extreme conditions (that even North Wales can’t provide), from sub-zero temperatures in Antarctica to the tropical environments of Central America, from dive medicine to the summit of Everest, there were some captivating, and at times incredibly moving accounts.
A different kind of rehydration technique was also encouraged in the evening lectures; with the bar mere feet from the lecture room, it made for a very relaxed learning environment!
The course facilities at the Plas y Brenin Mountain Centre were also fantastic. Everyone was kept very well fed with hearty meals and extra snacks and coffees. In addition to the already busy schedule, free time could easily be filled with surrounding activities; the local area was filled with running routes, there was an onsite bouldering wall at your fingertips (literally) and the most brave-hearted even had the chance to swim in the local lake.
At the end of the week, the course culminated in a final search and rescue operation, putting newly learned skills to the test. I was able to take part as one of the organised teams which, after a short briefing, had to navigate to points to collect equipment and then locate their casualty before managing the situation and getting them to safety, requiring good team communication and coordination. A final debrief provided immediate feedback and helped identify key learning points (and it was reassuring to know our casualty had felt ‘safe’ in our handmade stretcher!).
Finally, the course closed with a presentation on developing a career in expedition medicine, including essential advice and links to future opportunities.
In summary, I would highly recommend this internship to anyone who wants to gain more experience of expedition medicine, whether it’s learning more about the legalities or logistics, to improving technical skills or simply to meet more like-minded people and make useful contacts, coming on this course is like joining the expedition family you never knew you had!
Thank you again for the opportunity!