The Semester in Wilderness Medicine



Overall Semester Description

Aerie's Semesters are rigorous academic programs designed to prepare students for careers in medicine as well as to provide them with the skills and certifications necessary for competitive jobs in the outdoor field. Aerie offers three full Semester programs:  Spring, in Costa Rica and Montana; Summer, in Montana; and Fall in Montana and the Indian Himalaya.  All offer 15 upper-division University of Montana credits.  All use realistic scenarios, interactive lectures, as well as clinical observations in a variety of settings (an urban American emergency room; an advanced life support ambulance service; a developing-world rural health clinic during the Spring and Fall Semesters) to ensure a well-rounded, challenging and rewarding educational experience.  

Our goal is to provide not only professional-level certifications, but also a broad education in wilderness skills to ensure that our students are capable of preventing and responding to emergencies in any environment. Our Semester students receive the most comprehensive education in wilderness and emergency medical skills available anywhere.

Want to learn more?  Contact aerie at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  

Applications Now Being Accepted

Summer and Fall Semesters in Wilderness Medicine 2015 as well as Spring, Summer and Fall 2016



Summer Semester in Montana (our Spring and Fall Semester pages are being updated)

Certifications/Credits Earned (dependent upon successful program completion):

  • 15 upper-division university semester credits 
  • Aerie Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT)
  • National Registry EMT-Basic  (EMT)
  • State of Montana EMT-Basic 
  • American Heart Association Healthcare Provider CPR 
  • Rope Rescue Technician
  • Whitewater Rescue:  Operations
  • Search and Rescue Technician 

Program Highlights:

Each Aerie Semester has its own emphases built on a WEMT foundation.  Aerie's Summer Semester's is technical rescue.  In addition to learning urban EMT skills, students will practice medical skills with multiple weeks in the backcountry.  The course takes place at the beautiful Jack Creek Preserve near Big Sky, MT.  Students will also travel to the Clark Fork River and Bitterroot Mountains near Missoula for several of the wilderness weeks. Each week focuses on a different skill essential to the wilderness medicine practitioner, and includes: wilderness survival; high-angle rescue; search and rescue; land navigation; swiftwater rescue.  Establishing several base camps in the area allows time to set up and practice extended rescue and evacuation scenarios.

Students learn to care for themselves and the injured with few supplies and little outside help. Throughout the Semester, students hone skills in backcountry navigation, including regular practice in the field use of topographic maps, compass and GPS. Furthermore, students learn a broad range of survival techniques such as emergency fire building and improvised shelter construction in order to provide quality care in extended evacuations.    While practicing high and low-angle rope rescue, students gain their Rope Rescue Technician certification . 

Aerie instructors who founded the Whitewater Rescue Institute join us for a week of River Guide School, during which students earn their Whitewater Rescue Operations certification while managing complex rescues in a challenging whitewater environment.  Because WRI teaches the course in conjunction with our own instructors, we ensure that students are equipped both to manage swiftwater rescues as well as to respond to the medical emergencies encountered in submersion incidents.

While in the front-country, students augment their EMT skills with human anatomy instruction at the University of Montana cadaver lab, vehicle extrication training with local firefighters, and clinical hours both on an Advanced Life Support Ambulance and in an emergency room.  All of these experiences are made possible by Aerie's excellent network of community relationships.

The program culminates with a week of search and rescue training, where students earn their SARTECH certification while learning to navigate through the backcountry, finding, caring for and moving patients as they travel across challenging terrain.  In a final practical experience, students put their route-finding and wilderness medical treatment skills to the test in a day-long RATRACE ("reach and treat) adventure race.

2015 Dates:

May 26-June 14Pre-Program Reading

June 14-August 16: Jack Creek Preserve near Big Sky, MT


Click the following links for more information:

You may also contact Aerie directly if you would like to speak with someone from the SWM Program.


Spring 2015 Semester blog
Summer Semester blog


No course is capable of operating without the risk of injury or illness. We encourage you to talk with our staff about risks inherent in our training programs before enrolling.

How to Register

You can download and mail in our registration form, call our office (406.542.9972), email us, or visit our office at 100 North Ave. West, Missoula, Montana, 59801. (Find us on Google Maps).

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