Background

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow was established in 1599 and through time has developed into the only multi-disciplinary Royal Medical College in the United Kingdom. The College is comprised of five distinct faculties namely, Medicine, Surgery, Dentistry, Podiatric Medicine and Travel Medicine.

The aim of the College is to support Members and Fellows during the course of their career from graduation through to retirement. Additionally, the College aims to set the highest possible standards of health care by providing career support to all Members and Fellows both in the UK and across the world through education, training, professional development and examinations and assessment.

Expedition medicine (or wilderness medicine in the United States) has been a growing sub-speciality over the past two decades. Healthcare professionals are increasingly accompanying a wide range of overseas trips providing care in environments different from their usual work place. In response to this, numerous courses became available, offering expedition medical training to both medics and non-medics.

In 2008 the Royal Geographical Society Medical Cell, in conjunction with Oxford University Press brought together a wide-ranging team of specialists and published the Oxford Handbook of Expedition and Wilderness Medicine, a practical field guide to remote medicine. An updated and extended second edition of this highly acclaimed book was published in 2015.

Having seen the need for a more comprehensive and academically recognised level of training, using the OUP Handbook as a course manual, two of the second edition Editors, Dr Jon Dallimore and James Moore, developed the International Diploma in Expedition and Wilderness Medicine. It was felt from the outset that an academic course of this nature should be housed within a medical college, and being Fellows of the Faculty of Travel Medicine, both course directors were very pleased when the Faculty accepted their proposal to house the Diploma within the College.

Launched in June 2016, this Diploma is the first of its kind and will set the benchmark for education in Expedition and Wilderness Medicine.

In common with other courses at post-graduate degree level, the programme will develop cognitive, leadership and practical skills that will enhance candidates' professional practice and therefore improve patient management. The modules are designed to facilitate development of higher audit processes to ensure candidates develop maturity and leadership as expedition healthcare providers.

These aims will be achieved through keynote lectures, workshops and seminars facilitated by specialists in the expedition medicine field. The modular programme aims to provide an academic base to prepare healthcare professionals for the role of expedition medical officer. They will learn to become autonomous, reflective practitioners who can operate in a range of pre-hospital environments – jungle/desert/altitude/maritime. Multidisciplinary team working underpins course philosophy which is reflected in the College ethos.

The programme aims to develop practitioners who are able to make sound clinical and situational judgements in environments and situations prone to rapid change and uncertain outcomes. They should be able to apply best clinical practice or evidence-based theory to support their decision-making. It is hoped that graduates of this course would become leaders in this field and help to disseminate the information learned to their colleagues and the broader healthcare community.

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