The Wilderness Medical Society and FAWM credit

For those who are interested in Wilderness Medicine, membership in the Wilderness Medical Society should be strongly considered. Not only do they host fantastic conferences, publish several regular journals (including Wilderness and Environmental Medicine) but they also have the Academy of Wilderness Medicine.

Through the Academy of Wilderness Medicine, a student of wilderness medicine can earn credits towards the title of FAWM, Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. This is a very important step, in my opinion, for the regulation of a “body of knowledge” for back-country health providers.

There are several certificates, diplomas and credentials that are available for the study of Travel Medicine. The FAWM status is a great step towards demonstrating the provider’s skill set and work/education in the field of Wilderness Medicine.

A total of 100 credits are required to earn the title FAWM. These credits can be gathered in several ways. First, the academy offers an “Experience” evaluation, where health care providers can list their prior degrees, certificates, volunteer experience, board certifications, publications and other personal achievements and have these translated into FAWM credit. Second, candidates should accumulate lecture hours in the “required topics“. I am gathering my required credits through attending conferences that are accredited by the WMS. For example, I recently attended the conference and received many credits towards my FAWM status.

Credit can also be earned by attending WMS approved educational courses, such as NOLS (national outdoor leadership school), AWLS (advanced wilderness life support), WFR(wilderness first responder) and CME style courses ( There are many courses that are approved and a complete listing can be found at the WMS site, once logging in as a member.

The title of FAWM can be earned by virtually any certified health care provider, including nurses, PAs, EMTs and physicians.

Overall, I am very satisfied with my membership in the WMS and couldn’t imagine the disappointment if I stopped receiving my journals. I am also working towards my FAWM status and applaud the academy for going to the work of establishing the fellowship. Hopefully, this will allow for some credentialing in the emerging field of wilderness medicine.

AWLS Advanced Wilderness Life Support Classes has some great information on the subjects of wilderness/expedition medicine and travel health. One of their new articles is about the NAU (Northern Arizona University) Outdoors Section classes in Wilderness Advanced Life Support, from the University of Utah School of Medicine and Wilderness Medicine.

For those of you in the medical professions, this class is similiar to ACLS (advanced cardiac life support), PALS (pediatric advanced life support) or ATLS (advanced trauma life support) but with the wilderness health care provider in mind. The University of Utah School of Medicine was that first place to offer a class like this, including the certificate of training, which is good for 4 years. They started this concept back in 1997.

The class looks great, from what I have seen. I am currently looking at my schedule to arrange some time to get out and take a class!

The curriculum can be viewed on their site and includes didactic lectures, hands-on skills and a written exam, at the end. If you are looking for some serious training in the discipline of wilderness medicine, this should be your class. For those professional health care providers, here is an opportunity to include a certification and earn some CME.

The classes even offer credit towards the Wilderness Medical Society’s program of earning a Fellowship in Wilderness Medcine, through the Academy of Wilderness Medicine, designated FAWM (fellow academy of wilderness medicine).