Terez Malka: Pursuing a Passion for Wilderness Medicine

18 May 2024


Terez Malka – emergency physician and paediatrician

Terez is an emergency physician and paediatrician, has dedicated her career to providing medical care in challenging environments. Her journey began with a love for adventure and the outdoors, which she combined with her passion for medicine through a wilderness first aid course.

Terez’s medical education in Israel provided experience in disaster response, solidifying her resolve to pursue wilderness medicine. After completing her residencies, she followed her passion by earning a diploma in mountain medicine and a master’s in public health.

In this interview, we meet Terez Malka, an emergency physician and paediatrician who has dedicated her career to providing medical care in challenging environments and disaster situations. 

Her journey is a testament to the power of following one’s passions and the importance of diverse perspectives in the field of wilderness medicine.


Discovering a Calling

Terez’s path into wilderness medicine began not in medical school, but on the rivers and trails of her youth. As a competitive kayaker and outdoor trip leader, she developed a love for adventure and a respect for the challenges of remote environments. “I was a competitive kayaker through high school and so then through college, I taught and led outdoors trips,” she shares. It was during a wilderness first aid course that something clicked – this was the perfect way to combine her passions for medicine and the outdoors.


From Israel to the ER

Terez’s medical journey took her to Israel, where she attended medical school and gained firsthand experience in disaster response, working with an ambulance service near the Gaza border. “I really was taken by disaster response and working in areas where other people didn’t want to go and where it was difficult to practise safely and effectively,” she reflects. This experience solidified her resolve to pursue a career in wilderness and disaster medicine.


Finding Her Niche

After completing her emergency medicine and paediatrics residencies, Terez felt the pull of expedition medicine once again. She made the bold decision to leave her job and pursue a two-year wilderness medicine fellowship, earning a diploma in mountain medicine and a master’s in public health. “I really felt like I needed to get back to it in a bigger way,” she explains, highlighting the importance of following one’s passions.


Balancing Act

One of the most impressive aspects of Terez’s career is how she balances her hospital work with her expedition and disaster response commitments. “I patched together a mix of hospital-based work that pays my bills and supports my family and as much disaster response, teaching, and expedition work as I can build in,” she shares. This delicate balancing act is a testament to her dedication and the supportive environment at her workplace.


Bringing Wilderness Medicine Home

For Terez, the skills and mindset of wilderness medicine are just as applicable in the hospital setting as they are on a remote mountainside. “I really strongly feel that wilderness and extreme medicine skills are just as relevant within the modern world,” she remarks, reflecting on how the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of adaptability and resourcefulness in medicine.


Overcoming Obstacles

As a woman in a male-dominated field, Terez is no stranger to the challenges of building a career in wilderness medicine. She emphasises the importance of physical fitness and the need for a supportive co-parenting relationship. “I know my children are safe with him. I know that they’re happy. I know they’re well cared for… if I didn’t have that, my career would have to look incredibly different,” she shares, underscoring the importance of a strong support system.


Advice for Aspiring Wilderness Medics

Terez’s advice for those looking to follow in her footsteps is simple: be bold and seize opportunities. “The worst thing that happens is they say no, and that’s not so bad. You’re in no worse shape than if you haven’t applied,” she encourages, highlighting the importance of putting oneself out there.


Through her inspiring career and commitment to patient care in the most challenging of environments, Terez Malka is a shining example of what’s possible when passion, skill, and a willingness to embrace challenges combine. Her story is a reminder that with dedication and a supportive network, even the most daunting of obstacles can be overcome.

→ Learn more about Terez’s experiences by listening to the Diversity Podcast Special now.

→ Kick-start your career in expedition medicine by joining one of our courses. 

→ Join us at The 2024 World Extreme Medicine Conference.

Diversity Week Podcast Special: Diversity in Expedition Medicine

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