Medical Specialty Interest Group offer students fun diversions with individual focus

Medical students learn about threats in the wilderness, and how to avoid and treat outdoor perils in Wilderness Medicine Interest Group.

Med school isn’t all going to class, studying and memorizing. The University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix offers 52 clubs where students can learn about all kinds of exciting types of medicine and related issues.

Kelly Lynch, coordinator of alumni and student and engagement at the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix said the interest groups serve several functions.

“Students who are involved in these clubs are able to bond with classmates who have similar interests,” she said. “It also helps them network with community-based physicians.”

The Medical Specialty Interest Groups are not organized like traditional clubs where students must join, come to regular meetings, or pay a fee. They are less formal, and each has student leaders and faculty advisors who plan meetings and events throughout the academic year. Any student who wants to attend is welcome. The clubs host events, speakers and opportunities for students to learn more about particular types of medicine in the community and across the state.

One of the most popular is the Wilderness Medicine Interest Group because students like to take advantage of the great weather in the Valley of the Sun and they want to be prepared for the outdoors.

“I joined the Wilderness Medicine Interest Group last year because I love being outside and hiking, and just exploring the area,” said Cayman Martin, a second-year medical student who is one of the leaders of the wilderness club. “It’s great to be able to learn about what to do in case of any type of emergency when you’re out on a trail, and also how to avoid certain situations.”

Learning how to treat snake bites, scorpion stings or dehydration are some of the basics this group goes over. According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Arizona is home to 13 species of rattlesnakes, though fewer than 1 percent of all rattlesnake bites result in human death. Nonetheless, the advice given to students, according to Martin, is that when you see a snake, you should stay calm, slowly move away from it, and if you are bitten, go to a hospital as soon as possible.

While snakebites are one of the common fears among hikers, the Wilderness Medicine Group has a broad focus on how to live with nature.

One of the events that drives the popularity of the Wilderness Medicine Interest Group is MEDWAR, an annual competition that usually takes place in the fall among student teams where they address a variety of emergencies or disasters.

Mannequins from the simulation lab are used, and each team must diagnose and treat a mock emergency. The situations students had to address at last year’s event included a near-drowning, a fish hook embedded in the skin, anaphylaxis due to a severe reaction to a scorpion sting and a lightning strike. As the students work in teams to diagnose and treat the simulated patients, doctors observe and evaluate the work.

“It is an awesome event, and just so much fun,” Martin said.

About the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix

The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix admitted its inaugural class of first-year medical students in August 2007 and is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The College inspires and trains exemplary physicians, scientists and leaders to optimize health and health care in Arizona and beyond. The College is uniquely positioned to accelerate the biomedical and economic engines in Phoenix and the State by leveraging vital relationships with key clinical and community partners. For more, visit phoenixmed.arizona.edu/tenyears.