Student Interest Groups (SIGs)

Student Interest Groups (SIGs) receive a variety of free resources from the WMS and are the first to know about special events, scholarships, announcements, and more, related to students and residents in wilderness medicine. Click here to see if your school has a registered SIG, or read the instructions below to learn more about getting one started. You can also learn more about creating and sustaining a SIG by watching this Fireside Chat recording.

Getting Your WMS SIG Off the Ground

1. Register with your school - Before you can register your SIG with the WMS, it needs to be formally recognized by your school. As this process varies from institution to institution, it is best to visit your Student Affairs Office to find out more about the process of becoming recognized as a student organization at your campus. Many requirements include:

  • Draft a formal constitution
  • Develop a budget
  • Find a faculty advisor
  • Gather a minimum number of interested students
  • Submit paperwork on time! This is very important, so keep an eye on dates, especially early in the year!

2. Join the WMS! It is WMS policy that the student president and faculty advisor of the club maintain active membership with the WMS. If you have not already become a member, you can join the WMS here. SIG groups may consider including these memberships as part of their operating budget. To register as a student, you will be asked to provide the name of a faculty advisor. Student members can receive 60% off any membership levels and resident/fellow members can receive 30% off. The perks of becoming a student member include: online access to the Wilderness and Environmental Medicine Journal, conference discounts, scholarship eligibility, research and grant opportunities, and more! Many of these resources can be shared for club activities. 

3. Consider creating a school-specific WMS SIG email address. As turnover of a school’s SIG leadership typically occurs each year, it is recommended to create a SIG-specific email address using an email provider of your choice (e.g. [email protected]). This helps the WMS maintain a current, up-to-date directory and contact information for your school’s SIG over subsequent academic years.

4. Register with the WMS! Once formally recognized by your school, complete the Student Interest Group Registration Form and include a letter from your school stating you are formally recognized as a SIG. Once registered, your group will be added to our SIG directory on the WMS website so that others can easily connect with your group. You will also receive access to five online topical presentations to kickstart your educational programming.   
5. Check out our SIG resources and share our Education & Engagement Opportunities with your club members. 


Finding funding for your SIG can be a true challenge and is one that is continually faced by SIGs throughout the country. WMS does not provide financial support for its SIGs, but there are many options to pursue:

1.  Co-Sponsorship - Creating an event with another club is a great way to not only fund your event, but also expand your potential audience base across specialties. Many clubs jump at the opportunity to co-sponsor an event, as it splits up the work of planning and organization. Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, and Pediatrics Interest Groups lend well to collaboration, but consider other specialties and medical fields for activities and events. All specialties can be applied to various domains of wilderness medicine including the practice of austere, resource-limited, global, public health, disaster, event, or international medicine.

2.  Department Sponsorship - Even if there is not another club to team up with at your school, many departments are willing to fund events, knowing that they are giving students exposure to their field. You may also find that they have an expert willing to help teach the application of their specialty as it pertains to wilderness medicine. It never hurts to ask!

3.  School Funding - Many schools charge a “Student Activities Fee” within your tuition, which is available for all recognized clubs to use. In many institutions, a formal event proposal must be submitted to access these funds. As the process is drastically different from school to school, it is best to speak with your Office of Student Affairs or your Graduate Student Senate on how to obtain funds from this pool.

4. Local Wilderness Activity-Related Groups - Reach out to wilderness-related local groups or clubs. These could include mountain clubs, hiking groups, audubon societies, conservation NGOs, local parks, dive/gear shops, or even search and rescue (SAR) teams. While they may not be able to fund you directly, they most likely have members knowledgeable in wilderness medicine who love it enough to volunteer their time. They may also have a space for you to be able to host your events. This is a great resource to find other like-minded people in the community that can lead trips, give talks, or even sponsor one of your events!