PCOM's Outdoor Medicine clinical rotation cohort held an event at the National Boy Scout Jamboree.
Every four years, roughly 35,000 Boy Scouts descend on Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia for the National Boy Scout Jamboree. This year, six fourth-year medical students: Sarah Blazovic (DO ’18), Sarah Corcoran (DO ’18), Ashley Cochran (DO ’18), Elisa Giusto (DO ’18), Austin Sorchik (DO ’18), and Cameron Williams (DO ’18), were in the middle of it all, as the first cohort of PCOM’s new Outdoor Medicine clinical rotation. PCOM is the first medical school to create an organized clinical rotation at the event.
The students, led by Erik Langenau, DO, MS, chief academic technology officer and associate professor, pediatrics, were stationed at Basecamp Foxtrot, which served the medical needs of roughly 8,000 campers from the US and abroad. Throughout their two-week rotation, students worked alongside 70 medical personnel to address a wide range of health issues, from dehydration to fractures to behavioral health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Mr. Cochran, an Eagle Scout, was able to assist in a real emergency—a scoutmaster suffered a heart attack, and Mr. Cochran and others administered CPR and helped stabilize him until he could be airlifted to a nearby hospital.
“We’ll all have the luxury of being in an air-conditioned office or hospital for the majority of our careers,” said Mr. Cochran. “However, it’s absolutely necessary to be prepared for the day the pilot says overhead, ‘Is there a doctor onboard?’ or when you round the corner and find two cars smashed together in the median of the road. Outdoor medicine will teach you the skills you need for those events, should they ever occur.”
Prior to the arrival of the Scouts, PCOM students spent several days training with the U.S. National Guard and with West Virginia University nursing and paramedic students. Training included learning IV placement, cooling techniques, anaphylaxis treatment, mass casualty preparedness, immobilization and airway management. They also built the medical facility from the ground up, learning about organizing and constructing a medical field office in the process.
Ms. Giusto said she enjoyed the variety and unpredictability of the rotation. “You see a lot of the same types of things working in a hospital, but at the camp, we encountered several different issues,” she said. “It was interesting to see how our preceptors worked in the field rather than inside a hospital.”
Students had to apply in their second year for the elective rotation, and the application process was rigorous: students were required to write a letter of intent, interview with Dr. Langenau, and undergo background checks and physicals before they were permitted to participate.
Dr. Langenau, a scoutmaster for his son’s troop, developed the rotation after serving at a Boy Scout summer camp two years ago, and seeing an opportunity for medical students to learn. “The skills our students learn on this rotation are well-suited for several different specialties, from family medicine, to emergency medicine to pediatrics,” he said. He reached out to Jamboree Chief Medical Officer John Lea, MD, to see how a rotation could be worked into this year’s event.
“This is a great partnership, and there should be more of them. Any Jamboree doctor or nurse who is on a faculty or has a faculty connection should explore a partnership with me. We’ll build one that works,” Dr. Lea told Jamboree Medical, the newsletter for that event’s medical services.
Dr. Langenau, a staff physician at the Jamboree, said he was pleased with the students’ performance during the two-week rotation and hopes to continue it at future Boy Scout events. “This was one of the most hands-on, rewarding teaching experiences I have ever seen for medical students. All performed extraordinarily well, and I was proud to work with each of them.”
As a former Girl Scout, Ms. Giusto said she identified with the leadership and moral principles taught by the Boy Scouts of America, and hopes to return to the Jamboree. “There is an international event in two years—we’re all trying to figure out how we can go back,” she said.
Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine has trained more than 15,000 highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists who practice a “whole person” approach, treating people, not just symptoms. PCOM offers the doctor of osteopathic medicine, doctor of pharmacy and doctor of psychology degrees and graduate programs in mental health counseling, school psychology, physician assistant studies, forensic medicine, organizational development and leadership, and biomedical sciences. Our students learn the importance of health promotion, education and service to the community and, through PCOM’s Healthcare Centers, provide care to the medically underserved populations in inner city and rural locations.
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