Appalachian Wilderness Medicine Student and Resident Electives

student in a jacket looking at sunset over the hills**2025 Student Elective registration is expected to open on July 1st, 2024.**

Resident Elective (2 weeks):

The two-week Resident Elective will take place every September in Roanoke, VA. More information and registration for 2024 available here.

Registrants will spend time participating in experiential learning, high-fidelity simulation and didactics. Based in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding Roanoke, VA, with day trips outside the area.

Tuition includes two weeks of high-quality, hands-on education in wilderness medicine, select meals for day trips, final day cookout dinner, swift water rescue course and certification, technical rope course, discover scuba, and the opportunity to earn FAWM credits.

Student Elective (4 weeks):

New for 2025: After a very successful pilot in 2024, the four-week student elective is now fully expeditionary! Participants will spend time in VA, WV and NC participating in experientia learning, high-fidelity simulation and didactics. Learning will take place in unique environments ranging from ski slopes and caves to boats, rivers, trails and vertical climbing environments. Participants will master both in-field and in-hospital patient care. For more details please email: [email protected].

Tuition includes meals, lodging, high-quality education, and FAWM credits for the elective. Some gear rentals and optional activities may involve additional costs. 

WMS membership is required prior to registration.


4-week Student Elective: February 3 - 28, 2025


The WMS Elective is designed for third and fourth year medical students, residents, 2nd year PA students, 2nd year NP students and senior nursing students who are enrolled in a program at an accredited or internationally recognized allopathic/osteopathic medical school, PA school or nursing school, or residency program in the US and abroad. Preference is given to students and residents in their final year of training.

What Designed for third and fourth year medical students, residents, 2nd year PA students, 2nd year NP students, and senior nursing students. Students must be proficient in English in order to qualify for consideration (see below). This elective provides four weeks of instruction including:

  • Small group discussions of wilderness scenarios
  • Formal lectures of Wilderness Medicine principles and specific topics by leaders in the field
  • Caving
  • Instruction in wilderness survival 
  • Pre-hospital patient assessment and evacuation
  • Wilderness Emergency Medical Responder Course
  • Swiftwater rescue
  • Snow safety
  • Technical rope rescue
  • High-fidelity simulation of environmental emergencies in a state of the art lab


The course is offered in association with the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, and will be held at various locations throughout the Appalachian Mountains including:

  • Smith Mountain Lake, VA
  • Appalachian Trail, near Roanoke, VA
  • Canaan Valley, WV
  • Hanging Rock State Park, NC
  • Pilot Mountain State Park, NC

Students will stay in a variety of accommodations including dormitory-style bunks, cabins, and will spend some nights camping. All meals are provided on course days.

Diversity and Discrimination

The WMS does 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 WMS selection committee to maintain gender diversity within the class.  All class slots will be filled with quality applicants.
Safety and Risk Management The Wilderness Medical Society faculty are committed to providing a safe and rewarding elective experience. However, all risk from injury cannot be eliminated. Course work will involve individual 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 might be expected to sleep outdoors on some nights (if home location allows) and care for themselves in extreme weather conditions. 


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