In 2007, we piloted our first hybrid course in wilderness medicine; in 2008 we opened them to the general public. Overall they were—and are—hugely successful. Our hybrid course curriculum is continually evaluated and our delivery systems updated annually. Each of our medical courses has a hybrid option.
Your time and money are important; so is your education. We've written this article to explain—as thoroughly as possible—what you are getting into when you register for one of our hybrid courses. It's important to understand that the Wilderness Medicine Training Center International is both a business and an educational entity. We take our educational responsibility very seriously. That said, because our hybrid courses require a significant financial investment on our part to maintain and deliver, once you have registered and paid for a hybrid course there are no refunds. Please read this article carefully and contact our office if you have any questions before you register and pay for a course.
Our hybrid courses are divided into two distinct parts, you must complete both parts within a year to receive certification.
Learn the wilderness medicine curriculum online and at your own pace through multimedia presentations, the Wilderness Medicine Handbook, case studies, SOAP Notes, and testing.
The Independent Study section provides the foundation for the Practical Session and is presented entirely online with minimal or no instructor contact. Students can complete the Independent Study from wherever they can access the course website.
The Independent Study section requires a high degree of initiative and self-direction. Students who prefer to learn completely under the direction of an instructor may be challenged to move through Independent Study effectively.
The Practical Session is facilitated by expert instructors who clarify and reinforce the Independent Study information with skill labs, simulations, and case study reviews.
In cases when there is a significant time gap between the time you finish Part 1 and begin Part 2, you may want to take an online Review test before the start of your practical session. The review test is designed to refresh key concepts learned during the Independent Study. You can also review your original tests and you will still have access to the course website.
You may register for for any Part 2 practical session offered by any WMTC sponsor after you complete the Part 1 Independent Study.
The Independent Study (Part 1) and the Practical Session (Part 2) both contain technical terminology as well as complex explanations of concepts. Students who are English language learners or who have certain learning challenges sometimes find this aspect of the curriculum difficult.
Independent Study Details
Online Test Details
Practice tests are easier than the exams and may only be taken once. You will receive answers to the practice test questions immediately after submitting them, and while the test is scored, the score has no bearing on passing or failing the course. That said, your score will give you an idea of how well you understand the basic material.
The exam questions are scenario-based and and WFR, WAFA, and WEMT students need to score ≥ 80% to pass; WFA students must score 75% to pass. You will be able to study for, take, and retake each exam multiple times. (Some exams have a 2-4 hour mandatory study/waiting period before you can take the test again. We’ve found that students who take back-to-back tests without studying between them tend to fail the next test.) That said, there is a limit to the number of times you may retake a given exam. If you reach the exam limit, please contact the WMTC office. One of our senior instructors will review your last test, email you detailed written feedback, and give you one final opportunity to take that particular exam. You will have the opportunity to review the feedback and ask the instructor questions before taking the exam again. If you fail the same exam again, you may not continue with the course, attend the practical session, or receive a refund for the course. Keep in mind that historically 99% of the students who fail an exam, receive instructor feedback, and go on to take that exam again, have passed that exam.
While we provide a time range for completing the Part 1 independent study portion of each course, it’s a rough estimate: You may require more or less time. It’s important that you plan and schedule more time than the high end of the estimate to help ensure you can complete the independent study portion in time to register for and attend a Part 2 practical session.
Scoring for the online exams is complex as the answers are weighted: Correct answers are awarded 1-3 points while 0-3 points are subtracted for incorrect answers; the sum total is the score for that question, however, the lowest score anyone can receive for an individual question is 0 points. If you fail an exam, you are not given the answers or given an explanation; it's left up to you to research the exam question and answers using the course materials. This means that you cannot guess answers and will need to problem solve; details are important.
Hybrid Course Websites
The hybrid course websites are essentially an online textbook with text, animations, and videos. Because there is no direct instructor interaction during the independent study portion of the course (unless you fail an exam multiple times), the sites include case studies (and follow-up discussion) to check your understanding prior to taking the online exams. Keep in mind that the online exams are both an educational tool as well as an assessment tool. As such, they are challenging and few students pass on their first attempt.
Please visit the hybrid course website you are interested in to see how it is organized and get a rough estimate of how much time you should plan in order to complete the independent study portion of the course; plan for more time than you think you will need. Thoroughly read the information on the home page and view the Lightning presentation to make sure the course meets your needs; the actual site is password protected, and entered via the button titled “Registered Students.” The website password together with login information to our online testing site and a link to the course study guide are sent to students upon registration.
Hybrid Wilderness First Aid website
Hybrid Wilderness Advanced First Aid website
Hybrid Wilderness First Responder website
Hybrid Wilderness EMT website
Hybrid Recertification website
Practical Session Details
There are no formal lectures during the practical session. Instead, the practical session focuses on the practical application of the independent study information: skills labs (splinting, wound cleaning, reducing dislocations, assessing and managing potentially spine-injuried patients, etc.), simulations, and case study reviews in order to prepare you to respond effectively to real-life injuries and illnesses. The time you spend away from home or work is significantly less than that required by our standard courses. Many students can actually learn MORE via hybrid course because their they can absorb and process the information according to their learning style and at their own pace.
Because there may be a large gap between the time you finish Part 1 and begin Part 2, you may want to take an online Review test before the start of your practical session. The review test is designed to refresh key concepts learned during the Independent Study. While the review test is scored so you can self-evaluate, there is no pass or fail;. however, you are responsible for knowing the information in order to pass Part 2 practical session. You will still have access to the course website and can look back through your original independent study tests to refresh your memory of key concepts.
Standard vs. Hybrid ~ Which one should I choose?
Both courses cover the same material using slightly different pedagogy. Tuition for both courses includes our weather-proof Wilderness Medicine Handbook and our Patient SOAP Notes. For some people, the primary decision-making factor is time away from home or work; for others, it has to do with their learning style, and still others it has to do with location or dates; for most, it's a combination. The tabbed information below should help you make a decision. Remember, you can always call our office and discuss the course type or format with one of our staff.
Factors when choosing a course sponsor and site:
Learn more about our pedagogy and delivery strategies.
More thoughts on whether or not YOU should take a hybrid course
If you like learning on your own, are intrinsically interested in wilderness medicine, have effective study habits, like problem solving, have enough time to study, have access to internet and a computer or tablet, (smartphones do work, but the screens are often too small) and would like to spend as little time away from home or work as possible, consider taking one of our hybrid wilderness medicine courses.
If you are seeking to recertify your current WAFA, WFR, or WEMT certification, our hybrid Recertification course is a great option. As a graduate of an approved WAFA, WFR, or WEMT course, you already have a grasp of the didactic information and you could easily review lecture material on your own. Our hybrid WFR & WEMT Recertification course allows you to spend only the you need to brush up on your anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology by using the Recertification website, case studies, and the online exam to focus your study. You maximize the your time away from home practicing skills and participating in as many simulations and case study reviews as possible to refresh your skills. Graduates from other wilderness medicine schools should keep in mind that our courses may require a deeper understanding of anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology than your original course or use slightly different medical terminology. This may require more time to complete the independent study portion of the course than is estimated.
If your WFR or WEMT certification has expired or you are looking for a more in-depth practice than a Recertification course can provide, our hybrid WFR or WEMT course may meet your needs. Similar to students seeking normal recertification, you already have a grasp of the didactic material and can review the basic lectures on your own. This is a great option if you need to brush up on your skills, renew your certification, deepen you knowledge of wilderness medicine, and maximize your time spent away from home and work.
If you are a current EMT or medical professional seeking knowledge and certification in wilderness medicine you already have a working knowledge of normal anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology you'll appreciate our hybrid WEMT module. While the practice of medicine in a wilderness setting is MUCH different than its urban counterpart, your background and experience will likely allow you to rapidly move through the independent study portion of the course and, as mentioned above, maximize your time spent away from home and work.
There are people who should NOT take one of our hybrid courses.
Are you one of them?
Our hybrid courses don't work for everyone. There are some people who should carefully consider the factors below before registering for the Part 1 Independent study portion of one of hybrid courses. Think twice about taking a hybrid course if:
Once you register for Part 1 or Part 2 of a hybrid course, there are no refunds. If you are unsure if a hybrid course is right for you, please contact our office for more information.
Looking for a reliable field reference? Consider consider purchasing one of our print or digital handbooks; our digital handbook apps are available in English, Spanish, and Japanese. Updates are free for life. A digital SOAP note app is also available.
Our public YouTube channel has educational and reference videos for many of the skills taught during our courses. Check it out!