What Is Polar Medicine?

28 May 2019

Polar medicine is a type of wilderness medicine that is specific to polar locations, typically the Arctic and Antarctic circles. This means the practice of medicine in isolated settings and extremely cold environments and includes the particular challenges of exposure and cold.

Why is polar medicine important?

The Arctic and Antarctic are becoming increasingly popular destinations for tourists and expeditions. There are also many polar researchers who want to understand climate change and its effects on the Arctic and Antarctic.   

This has also increased the need for medical personnel on such trips who have the skills and knowledge to administer medical support in the wilderness and extreme cold.

As these are extreme environments, where it is harder than normal to survive, live and work, there are greater medical risks involved for those visiting or working in the Arctic and Antarctic. That’s why polar medics are so important and increasingly in demand!

Who practices polar medicine?

Polar medicine is concerned with the unique challenges of the extreme cold and wilderness landscape. Therefore you don’t need to be a medic in a specific specialism – any medical professional can practice polar medicine if they complete the relevant practical training and have a passion for extreme medicine!

Many expeditions and projects take place in remote polar locations where medical facilities may be few and far between. Therefore, it’s essential to have polar medical professionals accompanying these projects with the practical skills, knowledge and understanding to perform in highly complex and demanding situations, particularly in the extreme cold.

To be successful in conditions this extreme, medics will need knowledge of temperature-related medical issues and arctic survival, and build on their skills in leadership, risk assessments, incident management and search and rescue.

Our polar medicine course

Immerse yourself in an Arctic wilderness with seven days to master the medical and expedition skills needed to thrive in the coldest, most remote corners of the earth.

The World Extreme Medicine action-packed polar medicine course has recently been relocated to the Arctic Circle and revamped to include more time deep in the wilderness under true arctic winter conditions.

You’ll find yourself in the company of polar guides and expert medics with extensive cold environment experience and all set to learn from the best in the business.

The course aims to enable attendees to:

  • Increase their knowledge about polar medicine and learn the essentials of polar travel, survival and cold weather medicine while immersed in a polar environment
  • Acquire and develop specific survival skills applicable to polar medicine
  • Develop leadership and decision making skills required when working in resource-limited environments
  • Enhance knowledge and skills relating to understanding, diagnosing and treating cold weather and altitude illnesses and injuries when presented
  • Understand and develop the non-technical skills required for polar medicine and expeditions in general, such as leadership and decision making skills, teamwork and being able to work together in an under-resourced austere environment

What will I learn on the polar medicine course?

Through hands-on workshops and scenarios, this highly practical course is supported by a comprehensive curriculum of cold weather and altitude medicine, taught through lectures and fully immersive workshops. You’ll cover a range of topics, such as avalanche awareness, basic navigation, primary survival in the wilderness, pre-expedition planning as well as shelter construction and cold water immersion and hypothermia, all preparing you for work, expeditions and micro-adventures in polar and high-altitude environments.

Who would benefit from attending this course?

Expedition medicine offers an exciting combination of medical practice and the outdoors, so any health professional who is involved in medicine in the outdoors and is interested or considering accompanying a cold weather expedition would benefit the most. If you are willing to think and work outside the box this is a great course for you.

With the role of an expedition medic requiring many skills, our polar medicine course offers the perfect opportunity to learn new skills and enhance your basic expedition knowledge as well as focus on key cold weather and high-altitude survival skills in the extreme.

Mark Hannaford, Managing Director & Founder of World Extreme Medicine, said: “This course gives attendees the opportunity to challenge themselves in a real-life extreme environment, a polar setting is dramatically different from anywhere else on earth”.

Where else in the world could you receive such hands-on experience, be part of a unique learning experience and have an adventure of a lifetime?

To find out more and get involved, you can visit our polar medicine course page.

You can also read our blog or visit our e-learning section, a digital resource for extreme medical professionals, packed with podcasts, webinars, interviews and presentations – amongst which you’ll discover plenty of valuable information on polar medicine. 

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