The WMS was excited to return to both in-person and online events at this year’s Summer Conference in Snowmass, CO from July 31-August 4. This year’s conference included 500+ attendees from 15 different countries. Below we hear from three learners who were part of the cohort that was awarded the WMS Conference Scholarship.
Inspiration and Connection
Jonathan Bauman, MD
University of Kansas Medical Center
It’s amazing how much the weather changes when driving to approximately 8200 ft. from a humble 900 ft. in Kansas City. The blissful cool mountain air was a fantastic reprieve from the sweltering 90° heat and humid weather to which I had just closed my car door. One might expect at a conference of medical professionals that everyone would be clothed in suits, ties, dress shoes, dresses, and other formal attire. I walked into a plethora of hiking boots, Chacos, REI, Patagonia, and Arcteryx gear and immediately knew I was in the right place. From this fantastic start, the rest of the conference did not disappoint.
The true spirit of “wilderness” was at the forefront of the conference: tales of heroic (and sometimes tragic) mountain rescues, obligatory helicopter pictures, a glimpse at a Titanic wreck exploration crew, and stories of austere medicine experiences in the most remote places imaginable.
Some highlights for me included:
- Dr. Olen Netteburg’s absolutely astounding stories of life and medicine in Chad over the last 10 years. In a sentence, ER docs do it all (almost).
- Dr. Ben Abo’s tragic but fascinating stories from the Surfside Complex collapse in Florida this past year with pertinent reminders about urban SAR and the restorative properties of community.
- The overall healing power of nature and the wilderness as told by Drs. Harry Grammer and Christine Norton. Dr. Grammer’s fascinating lecture focused on how wilderness connects and grounds at-risk youths and gives them a sense of belonging that they might otherwise have found in gang activity. Dr. Norton’s talk encompassed how nature affects our mental health and how we can harness that.
I had a fantastic time meeting and being inspired by the other conference-goers. Seeing the multitude of careers and opportunities available to pursue this niche of medicine was extremely motivating. After four days, as well as many hikes, beers, and tacos at Venga Venga later, I left feeling utterly refreshed and renewed in my mission to pursue wilderness medicine. The stories heard and more importantly the interactions with fellow participants left me wanting more. I’ll certainly be looking to attend a future conference and refill my wilderness tank.