Medicine in Extreme Environments: A New Medical Student Elective Class for Wilderness, Aerospace, Hyperbaric, Exercise, and Combat Medicine

Gautam Babu, Bradley D. Upchurch, William H. Young, Benjamin D. Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


We developed an elective course titled Medicine in Extreme Environments (MEE) at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center for first- and second-year medical students. This course covered physiology, research, clinical practice, and career guidance regarding the fields of wilderness, space, hyperbaric, combat, and exercise medicine. The primary aim was to generate interest in and awareness of these seldom covered fields of medicine by exposing medical students to these disciplines during their preclinical years. A postcourse questionnaire was implemented to investigate whether the MEE course increased awareness of, interest in, and knowledge in the fields of medicine included in the curriculum. Through 2 iterations of the class, a total of 67 students enrolled in the course, and 38 students completed the questionnaire. After course completion, 95% felt they better understood the work and lifestyle of the fields covered, 100% learned more about concepts of each field, and 74% agreed that the elective influenced the direction of their future careers to include some part of the fields emphasized. Although only a limited number of students enrolled in this course, these initial findings suggest that the MEE curriculum may have some utility in promoting awareness of and interest in these medical disciplines among students who attend the course. With continued student and faculty support, this course will likely be continued annually at our institution. We believe that certain aspects of this course may be useful in helping develop similar courses at other medical schools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-115
Number of pages6
JournalWilderness and Environmental Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • aerospace medicine
  • high altitude medicine
  • hyperbaric medicine
  • medical education
  • sports medicine
  • wilderness medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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