Q: How to Locate a Medical Director

Q: Our school is seeking a new medical advisor. Do you have any recommendations on what to look for in a medical advisor and how to locate one?
It should be someone who has a license in your state. Besides proximity, that person would be more familiar with the rules and regulations around writing prescriptions in your state and whether or not there may be restrictions around dispensing and administering medications by non-medical professionals. (A little lawerly advice is essential with this, too.) In addition, some pharmacies may not honor a prescription for medications from an out-of-state physician.

I would talk to local emergency department or family practitioners. Depending on the age range of your clients, a pediatrician might also work. Many organizations have been successful talking with the personal physician of one of its employees. You could also check with outing groups. You might consider contacting the Wilderness Medical Society (www.wildmed.org). They now have a Fellowship status. These are practitioners who have expressed an interest in wilderness medicine and have accumulated supplemental educational and field experience in the pursuit of this endeavor.

Whomever you find, it is important that that person be involved in any policy and procedure development and safety reviews including incidences and “near-misses”. Yearly participation in field protocol review and education is a great idea.

You should be clear whether or not you are looking for an adviser or someone with more control. For example, during phone calls from the field or office, would field staff be looking for an opinion or will the physician’s word be final in regard to treatment and disposition? In my experience most (but not all) are not looking for pay but they will be concerned about liability. Do you have a liability policy that covers this function? If not, some physicians may be able to add a rider to their professional liability policies (malpractice).

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