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The inspiration behind Adventure Medicine – an intervew with Olivia Kiwanuka

4 March, 2023
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Adventure Medicine was founded by Olivia Kiwanuka, a surgeon and expedition doctor who loves the outdoors. In this interview, we have the opportunity to learn more about the motivations and inspirations that drove the creation of Adventure Medicine from its founder.

1. What inspired the beginning of Adventure Medicine?

In short, because things happen when you’re in the outdoors, and you need to know how to handle it when it does. My passion for hiking and mountaineering sparked a When I started subspecializing in wilderness medicine 10 years ago, there were barely any available courses in Scandinavia, so I had to travel to places like the U.S, Nepal, and Indonesia, to study. In addition, the medical tradition differs between the U.S and Europe, and there was no handbook for the European public in the field. I wanted to change that and make wilderness medicine more accessible for everyone, especially outdoor enthusiasts. Adventure Medicine was founded to fill this gap.

2. How has your expedition experience influenced the way you approach wilderness medicine training?

My experience as an expedition doctor has taught me that practicing medicine in the field is vastly different from the hospital, but not necessarily for the reasons many think. The medicine itself is exactly the same, the human body functions, and malfunctions, the same way in the forest as in the ER, albeit the triggers might differ. The biggest difference is the logistical and practical challenges.

As a surgeon, I’m used to being prepared for many different scenarios, and I’m up-to-date with recent studies and the best treatment of choice. However, what my missions as an expedition doctor have taught me is that this matters surprisingly little in the field. More often than not, the medically best option has to stand back to environmental and situational factors such as freezing temperatures, limited medications, and unavailable transportation. That is why we emphasize not only medical management during our courses but also the logistical challenges that can be the difference between life and death.

3. What is your vision for Adventure Medicine?

My vision for Adventure Medicine is that we become the leading source of education and medical support within the field of wilderness medicine. We have an amazing team of medical professionals with substantial expertise in the field, who are passionate about teaching and experienced in practicing their profession in extreme environments. We love what we do, and I’m confident that we can have a significant positive impact on wilderness health and safety worldwide. By providing high-quality training and support, we can help outdoor enthusiasts and professionals to stay safe and healthy during their adventures.

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Do you want a course specifically aimed at your needs? We can arrange courses in different environments to better mimic the possible situations that can arise relevant to you. We can adjust the intensity of the course and the technical level. Contact us for more information!
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