PCOM's Outdoor Medicine clinical rotation cohort held an event at the National Boy
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 U.S. 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
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
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.
About Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has trained thousands
of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists
who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms.
PCOM operates three campuses (PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia) and offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, educational psychology, osteopathic
medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy and school psychology, and graduate degrees in
applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical sciences, forensic
medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling, non profit leadership
and population health management, organizational development and leadership, physician
assistant studies, school psychology, and public health management and administration.
PCOM students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service
to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care
to medically underserved populations. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 215-871-6100.
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