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Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi's life. So you might say, that we are encouraged to love.

- Anakin Skywalker, Attack of the Clones

The Wilderness Medical Society started its journey to creating a diverse and inclusive society a few years ago with the creation of the Women in Wilderness Medicine committee, the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) subcommittee, the writing of new policies solidifying its commitment to becoming more inclusive, and by funding training in DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) for board members and JEDI members.  Anyone on this path will know, however, that it is a long and winding path that we are merely beginning to navigate. The entire organization, from the board of directors to members of various committees, continues to do the work needed to enhance our diversity and create a sense of belonging amongst WMS members.

We know that organizations with diverse membership and leadership are more creativeinnovative, and productive. People from different backgrounds provide varying perspectives and therefore improved problem-solving capability.  Those who conduct scientific research in a diverse group produce papers that receive a higher number of citations and have a higher impact factor.

All this is to say that we don’t just want to increase diversity and inclusion because it’s the right thing to do, we want to do it because it will benefit us individually and as an organization. So, what does diversity mean to the WMS?  It means variance within categories such as age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and ability status, but also within type of medical training, specialty, wilderness pursuits, and other invisible traits that make our members unique. 

Below, some members of the JEDI team have shared their distinctive characteristics and unique talents. We want to share who we are, to humanize our similarities and differences, to remind ourselves that we are not just token representatives of individual characteristics, but rather, complex human beings with rich experience and intrinsic value (and a sense of humor). Do we have all the answers on how to do Everything Right to maximize DEI (and therefore overall) potential of your projects? Sorry, no. However, we are interested in working together to continually improve how we do things as an academic society and make it a welcoming place for you.  You, the membership, are the greatest asset of the WMS and we want to help you thrive in this environment.

Name: Avinash Patil (Avi)

Pronouns: he/him

WMS Board Member

Works as: ER Doc

Outdoor pursuits: Whitewater rafting, snowboarding, mountain biking, surfing

Star Sign: Sagittarius

Best Talent: too many to choose from 😊

Room for improvement: standup paddleboarding

Favorite planet: Earth

Name: Sarah Kleinschmidt

Day Job: ER doctor

Fun Fact: She was an extra in the movie 127 Hours

Wilderness adventure: Sarah went on her first backpacking trip at age 3 in the White Mountains. She was running ahead due to a thunderstorm and came upon 30 hikers celebrating nude hiking days. Surprise!

Wilderness medical training: Took wilderness first aid and EMT

Likes: Comets, hemlock trees

Enjoys: Trail running, hiking, rock climbing, swimming, surfing, biking

Reading: Barbara Kingsolver novels, The Overstory by Richard Powers

Watches: Nature documentaries

Identifies as: New England hippie

In a past life: Warrior scout spy

Name: Darla Stupey

Works as: Family Physician

Favorite thing about being a member of the WMS: Darla loves combining her outdoor passion with everyday work and looking at medicine in a different way

Barrier to participation: When Darla was young, she could not afford financially to participate in outdoor activities.  She was raised by a single mom who did not feel comfortable being in the wilderness with two small kids.

Wilderness Medical training: Did AWLS as a resident 15 years ago, was the doctor on medical mission trips to Haiti, one year before and after earthquake.

Enjoys: Skiing, surfing, hiking

Wilderness story: She got caught in a riptide trying to swim back to a cliff when cliff diving in Mallorca.

Identifies as: Extroverted Introvert

Name: Julius Jackson

Pronouns: He/him

Work: Teaches at high school health sciences academy that includes EMT

Wilderness medicine training: Grew up in Scouts so learned wilderness medicine since age 12

Favorite planet: Saturn, because of a piece of music: The Orchestral Suite of the Planets by Gustav Holst

Improvisational medicine story: While attending a wedding, he had to stop bleeding with a pocket handkerchief after a drive-by shooting

Hidden Talent: Ballroom dancing

Fun Fact: Was knighted by the Pope Benedict XVI 

Bucket list: Spend a season in Antarctica

Name: Nadav Caine

Job: Lifelong student, teacher, guide, EMT

Lives in: Israel

Enjoys: Hiking

Favorite plants: poisonous ones

With whom would you choose to be stranded on a desert island: With the POTUS so I could get rescued quickly

Where would you like to travel: An alternate universe. Or Mars

What scares you? Exams

Speaks: Hebrew and English

Name: Rachael Tennant

Identifies as: Moonchild

Languages: English and Spanish

Learning: Gaelic

Star sign: Libra

Favorite star: Moon

Favorite childhood memory: making Christmas cookies

Favorite meal: too many to answer

Hidden talent: baking

Favorite wilderness activities: Hiking, rock climbing, surfing (room for improvement), standup paddleboarding, and kayaking

Book of the year: Circe

Bucket list: hike the PCT

Name: Roople Unia

Pronouns: She/her

WMS JEDI Chairperson

Identifies as: Bookworm, Indian Marie Kondo, and yoga/meditation practitioner

Superpower: bringing people together

Weakness: directionally challenged

Hobbies: Biking slowly for long distances, climbing rock, ice, skiing, skating

Day Job: Neurologist

Learning: Landscape oil painting

Bucket list: Bike across New Zealand

Name: Carl Heine

Pronouns: He/him

Superpower: Not getting lost, ever.

Job: Associate Dean at Washington State University medical school, ER Doc

World expert on: Fluid mechanics of rays swimming

Favorite outdoor activities: Skiing, hiking, mountaineering, kayaking, climbing

Cooks best: Salmon (requirement of living in Alaska)

Name: April Oertle

Bucket List: Everest Base Camp

Star Sign: Aries

Hope: Pass USMLE Step 1

Room for Improvement: 5.11 climbs

Superpower: Forgetting dates even with 2 calendars 

Favorite Trail Snack: Fig Bars 

Hidden Talents: Thumb Wars 

Favorite campsite: North Rim of the Grand Canyon 

Learning: Medicine 

Strengths: Always smiling 

Weakness: Usually hungry 

Name: Mel Joseph

Currently: First year medical student and Second Lieutenant for the US Army

Goal: 5.9 Climb

Hope: Markswomanship qualification

Fun Fact: Finished reading 780 books over 4 years. Also, met Jason Momoa (Aquaman) at Comic-Con

Star Sign: super Libra

Special Interest: Ghost hunting (has been on 4 ghost hunts)

Bucket List: Everest Base Camp

Goal: Engage people of color in outdoor activities

Name: Sara Granda

Pronouns: she/her

WMS Winter Conference Speaker

Background: was a medical social worker prior to attending law school

Currently: Working on health law and policy in her role as a health lawyer

Goal: To resume direct care

Recent adventure: Skiing the Palisades

This article is a collaboration of the aforementioned members of the JEDI subcommittee of the membership council of the Wilderness Medical Society.  To find out more about participating in JEDI, you can reach the current chair (as of 2023), Roople Unia, at [email protected].