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Poison Centers

The Blue Ridge Poison Center and the University of Virginia: Partners in Wilderness Medicine

Located in the heart of Virginia, the Blue Ridge Poison Center sits near Shenandoah National Park, and George Washington National Forest; the Appalachian Trail; two ski resorts; numerous waterways; and is only a day-trip from the coast. The center capitalizes on the region’s reputation for great outdoor activities by offering an emergency medicine elective course in wilderness medicine and wilderness toxicology.  

Offered in partnership with the University of Virginia (UVA) School of Medicine, this two week course is taught in the spring and fall each year. It introduces students to the epidemiology, pathophysiology and clinical practice of wilderness medicine: the challenges of managing medical problems in austere environments lacking typical health care resources, often under harsh conditions. The course offers a combination of classroom lectures, human patient simulation, reading assignments, and many practical hands-on workshops. Topics include plant and mushroom ingestions, animal envenomations, cold/heat injuries, high altitude and diving injuries, search and rescue, hunting and fishing injuries, lightning strike prevention and treatment, survival techniques,  land navigation, and much more. The course culminates in a three-day wilderness excursion where students apply their knowledge in a practical final exam.

Dr. Nathan Charlton, Associate Medical Director of the Blue Ridge Poison Center, directs the course; instructors include other UVA School of Medicine faculty as well as regional experts in various austere environment fields. "The wilderness medicine course is a true collaboration between the UVA School of Medicine, the Blue Ridge Poison Center, and the community." says Dr. Charlton.
Read what students say about the Wilderness Medicine and Wilderness Toxicology Course:

"Active learning at its best – we were constantly engaged in trying new skills and had fun doing it."

"Tremendous hands-on experience."

"I also think the course does an excellent job of providing practical training through mock scenarios."

"Wonderful blend of education and application."

"This was probably my favorite course in medical school."