Sav Wijesingha / Registrar in ICM / Christchurch, New Zealand
Imagine a post-graduate diploma that encourages you to do more of your hobbies, meet interesting and like-minded people and go on location to be taught on a mountain, rather than a classroom?
Looking for a qualification that will put a bit of oomph behind those applications to be an expedition medic?
The Diploma of Mountain Medicine (DiMM) offers just that. Run by the University of Leicester, it is aimed at medics interested in expedition, travel, remote, rescue and high altitude medicine. It consists of four residential weeks, two question papers and three written submissions. The faculty include some of the most eminent figures in high altitude medicine, top mountain guides and those at the forefront of mountain rescue.
Two of the residential weeks are based at the UK National Mountain Centre at Plas-y-Brenin in North Wales. Although these are ‘Theory’ weeks and are followed by test papers, there is still time to get out and about. A great deal taught out on the hill, or for that matter, in the dark or in a river! There is some assessment, including night navigation during these weeks, but the faculty is hugely supportive and there is ample time to brush up on your skills with the experts. There are sessions run by the local search and rescue team, scenarios and the opportunity to gain practical skills such as basic expedition dentistry.
The remaining two weeks are the ‘Skills’ modules, which is where the fun really starts. The first of these is the Scottish Winter module, based at Fort William. This covers winter climbing skills as well as avalanche awareness and rescue. If you are a keen skier or a snowboarder, this is also hugely useful for personal safety off piste.
The final module is Alpine Skills, run from Arolla, in the Swiss Alps with some of Europe’s most experienced mountain guides. This is the chance to put everything learned during the Diploma into action. The week consists of examined medical scenarios and assessed rescue techniques, practicing glacier travel and safe climbing, as well as some time to bag a summit or two. Successfully rescuing your course buddies from a crevasse is an excellent way to forge new friendships – just don’t drop them!
As well as being an opportunity to learn a great deal of interesting and useful stuff from leaders in their fields, this diploma is above all a chance to mix with people who think the same as you – that medicine is an opportunity for adventure, that there is so much out there to see and do, and that the most interesting people take the road less travelled during their medical training.
The Diploma in Mountain Medicine starts every December and is run by the University of Leicester. Contact them via firstname.lastname@example.org. The diploma is expensive, does not include accommodation costs and the fee fluctuates from year to year. Think in the region of 3,500 pounds.