Finding a Medical Advisor for your Outdoor Program

A medical advisor can and should be an integral part of your risk management team, not just the person who writes prescriptions for epinephrine. Functions could include review and advice on policies that have to do with safety, medical management and treatment protocols. If you do any screening, an adviser can also give some guidance and insight on a potential client’s underlying medical issues and how to work toward making meaningful accommodations to your program. In addition, this person should be involved in all incident reviews (e.g., treatment, evacuations, near misses).

If you use any medications, an advisor could be part of the entire process from prescription, purchase, storage, and development of any protocols and policies regarding use, expiration, and disposal. Especially with epinephrine, an advisor could also be part of a yearly training refresher beyond any certification and training provided by an outside organization. If you supply medications for your staff to use in the field, make sure that both of you understand state rules, regulations, limitations, and risks regarding prescribing medications to non-licensed providers

People with a wider range of medical experience provide the best guidance. Emergency medicine, family medicine, and depending on the age, pediatrics or internal medicine are areas of practice that best fill that bill. Look for someone who is local. Even better, try to find someone with outdoor interests who knows your program. Selecting a family member of your staff or of a prior participant has lead to successful matches in the past. Then, if you find someone who is interested, invite that person to come out with you on a trip or a day of one of your planned activities. Who knows, maybe you will find a new staff member.

In the end, you want someone who likes the outdoors and understands and believes in what you are doing. It is important for that person to feel part of what you do, not just the provider of prescriptions.

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