The answer is rather simple: students remember the skills and information they use on a regular basis. The current researchers are asking the wrong questions.
Who is responsible for wilderness medicine graduates retaining their skills over time?
I believe the answer to this question is threefold:
1. Wilderness medicine providers are responsible for:
• delivering the course material in a practical hands-on manner with as many skill labs and simulations
as possible so students are able to grasp the required concepts and skills.
• providing on-going case studies via blogs, newsletters, and other media to aid a graduates' knowledge
• providing access to skill videos for review purposes, so graduates may practice the skills on their own.
• providing a field handbook and/or app that gives graduates access to assessment and treatment data.
• providing training and training options to a graduate's employers so they can run effective simulations
and training sessions for their staff on a regular basis.
2. Employers of wilderness medicine graduates are responsible for:
• taking advantage of the training opportunities and strategies offered by the wilderness medicine
• providing on-going simulation training, case study review, and discussion of possible problems
—including their assessment and treatment—that their trips may encounter to their employees.
3. Graduates are responsible for:
• taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the wilderness medicine providers and their employers.
• taking a recertification course when they think their skills are becoming inadequate even if the course is
before their certification expires.
Follow-up questions include:
1. What are the most effective delivery strategies for providers?
2. What are the most effective strategies for employers to use to maintain their employees' assessment and
3. What kind of medical training do program directors need so they can make preemptive program design
changes and on-going training decisions for their programs? This is especially true when it comes to
preparing staff to deal with environmental problems. For example, program directors need to understand
heat acclimatization in order to design training sessions and protocols for trips where the heat challenge is
may suddenly increase. The need to understand the physics behind lightning to train staff how to manage a
rapid descent from an exposed ridge when an unexpected lightning storm approaches. Etc.