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Learning outside: Medical students train to treat injuries outdoors at Marquette Mountain Resort

Marquette Mountain Resort has provided space and resources for medical students to complete an Outdoor Emergency Care course. In the front are from left Mountain Resort employee/emergency medical technician Nathan Williams and third-year medical students Erin McKenzie and Jennifer Wickens. In the back are from left are National Ski Patroller Debi Cook, and fourth-year medical student and Outdoor Emergency Care volunteer instructor Joel Hunt. (Photo courtesy of the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine U.P. Campus)

MARQUETTE — Marquette Mountain Resort has supported medical student education by providing the space and resources for Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Upper Peninsula Campus students to complete the Outdoor Emergency Care course.

The OEC is the National Ski Patrol’s training program for ski patrollers and others who deal with emergency situations. Students began the course in the fall of 2020 as part of their Compass elective, but due to COVID-19, the instructors and key personnel at Marquette Mountain Resort found creative ways to extend the course into the spring.

“We couldn’t be more grateful for this community support,” said Susan Tincknell, director of student programs for the U.P. clinical campus, in a news release. “Without the willingness of Marquette Mountain Resort and the NSP to teach and provide the perfect setting to learn, we wouldn’t be able to offer this unique training opportunity only available to MSU CHM UP Campus students.

“We feel it is essential to get students in outdoor settings to learn how to care for Yoopers who may injure themselves while enjoying outdoor activities.”

The Compass elective gives U.P. campus medical students an opportunity to advance their knowledge and proficiency in caring for patients who have sustained emergent wilderness and sports-related injuries in the outdoors. In addition to completing the OEC course, students participate in didactics with related outdoor activities, and give a community presentation.

“The training we receive through Compass and the invaluable insight from our instructors prepares us to contribute to community safety and well-being in one of the greatest places — the wilderness of the U.P.,” said third-year medical student, Erin McKenzie, in a news release. “I am grateful for the opportunity to gain skills through OEC that will help me be prepared for whenever there is a need, be it on the sidelines of the ice rink or out on a ski trail.”

Training at the hill follows a history of partnership the medical students have had with Marquette Mountain Resort. Former NSP OEC class instructors Anna Aldrich and Jim Grundstrom were instrumental in teaching students and involving them in ski-along excursions.

This year’s instruction was provided by Debi Cook, NSP patroller, and Joel Hunt, NSP patroller and fourth-year medical student, and made possible by Eric and Sarah Jorgensen, proprietors of the resort.

“Like everything else, our Compass OEC program was thrown a curveball with COVID-19 this year,” Cook said in a news release. “Prior to the beginning of ski season, the management at Marquette Mountain Resort offered a facility spacious enough to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions. Once the ski season was in progress, we continued the class outside at the base of the hill in the Ski Patrol Triage Area.

“This modification proved to be so valuable for training that the multi-night outdoor classroom will be incorporated for future OEC classes. The Marquette Mountain Ski Patrol is grateful for the opportunity to share our outdoor emergency skills with this awesome group of EMTs and Medical Students. I love watching them learn.”

The benefits are mutual when medical students engage in this type of training as it provides service opportunities within the community, according to the MSU College of Human Medicine UP Campus. Medical students bring these essential skills when volunteering at community races and in event medical tents throughout the Upper Peninsula.

The MSU College of Human Medicine UP Campus said it welcomes these collaborative efforts. The MSU College of Human Medicine UP Education Corporation works in conjunction with UP Health System – Marquette to coordinate the training of U.P. Campus medical students, family medicine and psychiatry residents. Since its inception in 1974, 310 medical students and 210 family physicians have graduated from these programs. Approximately 30% of its graduates learners are practicing in the U.P.

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