2024 BreckWild: Student Elective

The 2024 BreckWild student elective is full.

If you’d like to be added to the waitlist, please email the Program Directors at [email protected]

BreckWild: Wilderness and Environmental Medicine Student Elective The Wilderness Medical Society & the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University offer: An immersive 4 week educational experience designed for senior medical students with a goal of providing a comprehensive introduction to the field of wilderness and environmental medicine while gaining hands on experience and exposure to skills required for expedition planning, rescue and wilderness survival. Participants will have the opportunity to work towards their Fellowships in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine (FAWM). Participants must be enrolled in a program at an accredited or internationally recognized allopathic or osteopathic medical school in the US and abroad. Students must be proficient in English in order to qualify for consideration (see below). This elective provides four weeks of instruction including:
The Education Experience Includes:

Formal lectures of Wilderness Medicine principles and specific topics by leaders in the field.
Small group discussions of wilderness scenarios.
Field and hands-on instruction in survival and pre-hospital patient assessment, management and retrieval.
High-fidelity simulated case-scenarios with participants functioning as both providers and patients.
Supervised 10-day field-practicum incorporating medical assessment, treatment, evacuation, survival and improvisational techniques.
Complete a scholarly project.

Act as a medical group leader in backcountry or other remote settings.
Advise a wilderness travel and rescue group concerning care and evacuation of ill or injured members.
Plan for the medical support of wilderness and adventure travel experiences.
Manage common illnesses and injuries in an austere environment with limited resources.
Understand the physician’s role in search and rescue.
Identify and plan for special hazards in a variety of extreme environments.
Appreciate the interrelated role of humans on the environment and the changing environment’s role in public health.
Demonstrate basic competence in exotic travel and wilderness survival skills.
Develop and complete a scholarly project in the field of academic wilderness medicine.

The course is listed in the Sidney Kimmel Medical College (SKMC) at Thomas Jefferson in the Department of Emergency Medicine (EMRG 408). Each participant must query their own institution IN ADVANCE as to whether the elective will be accepted by their home institution. The curriculum is structured to be academically demanding.


The Grading system is Pass/Fail based upon a written, multiple-choice final examination grade of no less than 70%, a pass of the practical field exam, and completion of the 10-day San Rafael Swell practicum.

Diversity and Discrimination:

The Wilderness Medical Society, the Sidney Kimmel Medical College and the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center do not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, national origin, or political affiliation. A reasonable attempt will be made by the selection committee to maintain gender diversity within the class. All class slots will be willed with quality applicants.

Physical Condition and Handicap:

Applicants should be in sufficient physical condition and health to complete a 10-day overnight field experience with a trek through the rugged high desert environment and in winter day-hikes in Colorado to altitudes of 13,000 ft as a requirement for successful completion of the elective.

Attendees must be able to participate in rigorous physical exercise to include, but not limited to heavy lifting and hiking with a heavy pack over difficult terrain in bad weather. As such, course participants will be expected to be good physical condition upon arrival. Applicants with a physical illness or handicap will qualify for consideration if they can be reasonably expected to participate and complete the elective. This should be so stated by an examining physician on the medical form that accompanies the application. Participants with generally non-limiting chronic illness on medications who are otherwise qualified must arrive with sufficient quantity of medication and/or supplies to last the entire course. Determination of disqualification by reason of medical disability or illness is at the discretion of the Course Director. Applicants that will be pregnant and in their 1st trimester during the duration of the elective are eligible to participate with a signed written statement from the obstetrical care provider. Those in their second or third trimester at any time during the elective are not eligible. Participants that are shown to have falsified medical information will be dismissed from the course and will forfeit all tuition fees.

Safety and Risk Management:

The Wilderness Medical Society, the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, and the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center are committed to providing a safe and rewarding elective experience. However, all risk from injury cannot be eliminated. Course work will involve individual and group activities in rugged terrain, remote locations and bad weather. Leadership, planning, and conduct of these activities with respect to these risks is an important part of the elective educational experience. Good physical and mental conditioning is vital to successful completion of the course. Students will be responsible for providing, maintaining, and transporting their own equipment. They will be expected to sleep outdoors and care for themselves in extreme weather conditions. Field activities such as the final 10-day hike will be student planned with rotating student leadership and will be accompanied and supervised by one or more WMS faculty members. There may be occasions during pre-planned free time in town or at the beginning or end of the course when students will not be supervised by faculty members.
The final hike will involve ten days of travel in remote areas of eastern Utah including the San Rafael Swell and surrounding areas where rapid emergency rescue and medical response is impossible. While all reasonable efforts will be made to mitigate the danger inherent in backcountry travel, personal safety can not be guaranteed. All applicants are required to read, understand and sign the liability waiver statement included in the application section of the web site.


The 2024 tuition is $3,200 and covers:

Lodging at Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center in bunk rooms. Basic Linens provided. See BOEC Scott-Griffith Lodge.
Transportation via group shuttle to/from Denver International Airport and the BOEC at the start/end of course is included. These will depart at set times still to be determined.
Three meals per day for the majority of the course when training is conducted at the Lodge and while on the field portion.
One-year membership in the Wilderness Medical Society (WMS) is included. Course content will satisfy several areas of the required/selective credit for applicants of the Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine (FAWM) - however, the application fee ($225) is not included.
Over 140 hours of combined didactic, interactive, small group, and case-based training with demonstrations.
Tuition doesn’t cover:

Flights to/from the student elective       
Lodging prior to and after trip dates
Meals prior to and after trip dates and meals during free days. Students will be able to use the lodge kitchen for their own meal prep-food storage. There are myriad accessible grocery stores and restaurants in the area that can be walked to or reached by free public transit.
Personal gear
4/8/2024 4:00 PM - 5/4/2024 6:00 PM
Mountain Daylight Time
Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center 300 Snowy Ridge Rd Breckenridge, CO 80424 UNITED STATES
This event is full.