Dear students,

We write with ambivalence about news of a major change to the wilderness medicine elective (WME).  The TUSM-Maine Medical Center Wilderness Medicine Elective in Utah will not be running in the spring of 2020.  The WME started 26 years ago and, despite a quarter century of changes, the elective and the educational experience have continued to thrive.  This speaks to the vision of those who pioneered the WME and the dedication of those who have kept it going. 

However, the challenges of operating the course in Utah have expanded to a point where we can no longer sustain running the WME in its current form.  As medical schools have pushed graduations earlier and earlier, we have needed to move the elective from mid-May to mid-April and, most recently, to late March.  The River, dessert and alpine sections of the course have all proved more challenging in early spring and recruiting talented attending physicians to staff the course has proved harder.

We are committed to re-engineering and redesigning the elective so that it is sustainable and maintains the spirit of our elective: learning in a wholly unique environment.  The future is not determined yet, but we have many ideas.  We are exploring the idea that a Maine Medical Center elective should be taught in, well…Maine.  Other likely changes are moving the elective it to the fall and combining it with time spent in the ED and with local rescue groups. We are motivated and excited to begin this new journey.  In order to make this work we need at least a year of preparation time.  For this reason we will not host the elective in April 2020.  But we hope to have it running again in fall 2020 or maybe in fall 2021. 

We apologize to those who were excited for a spring elective, but we are excited for the new format that will exist and we hope people will appreciate it as much.  Please reach out to us with questions, suggestions, or general thoughts (garreth.biegun@gmail.com). 

MMC Wilderness Elective Directors:

Garreth Debiegun

Matthew Sholl

Sara Nelson