Frequently Asked Questions

Before the Course

What is Wilderness Medicine?

The practice of medicine where definitive care is more than one hour away, and often days to weeks away. The practice of wilderness medicine is defined by difficult patient access, limited equipment, and environmental extremes.

What course should I take?

Licensed medical professionals should take the AWLS course, thus any one who holds of these degrees: MD, PhD, PA, NP, RN, Paramedic, EMT. It also includes medical professionals who may not see emergency care or general practice responsibilities on a day to day basis (ie: podiatrist, OBGYN). Our graduates include outdoor enthusiasts, expedition participants, US Army and other military medical personnel, wilderness medicine academicians, and Wilderness Medical Society Fellowship candidates.

Those without a degree can consider WFR. It is longer course(up to 80 hrs) and costs more money, but it does go fairly deep in terms of assessing injury in the wilderness and treatment.

What if I have no Wilderness Medicine experience?

AWLS is designed to provide you with a foundation in Wilderness Medicine. Although there may be other people attending a course with higher levels of experience it is a great environment in which to network and learn from other course participants. AWLS is appropriate for newcomers and more experienced Wilderness Medicine practitioners.

How do I host or license a course in my area?

If you have a great facility and passion for Wilderness Medicine we invite you to think about hosting a licensed course. Visit our Host a Course page and download a course application. For more information, contact us via email at

During the Course

Can I receive a textbook prior to the course?

Yes, once you have registered for a course you will be provided a password to download the complete AWLS textbook in digital form from the website on the “Curriculum” tab. If you would like a hard copy of the textbook please respond to your registration confirmation, which you will receive via email, that you want a hard copy text and one will be provided to you at the course.

All of the relevant information for the AWLS certification will be presented and discussed at the course so advance study is not generally necessary.

What do I bring to the course?

Given that this course involves time spent both in the classroom and outside working on practical scenarios, one should take the weather forecast into consideration and wear comfortable clothes similar to what you would wear hiking.

Hypothetical Summer Course Packing List

1-2 pairs shorts
1-2 pairs pants
3 T or short sleeved shirts
Warm layer (ie: Fleece or sweatshirt)
Sneakers/ hiking boots
Extra socks
Brimmed hat
Bug Spray
Small day pack
Water Bottle
Bathing Suit (optional)
Rain jacket and pants (weather dependent)

What if I want to share transportation or lodging at a course?

Please visit our Facebook page. You can post a comment requesting other course participants respond if they are interested in sharing travel plans.

What if I have to cancel?

No refunds will be given within 30 days of the date of the start of the conference. If you need to cancel within the 30-day period, we will apply your payment to a future AWLS course of your choosing to be used within two years of the date of the cancelled course.  All refunds are subject to a 10% processing fee.

After the Course

What type of credit will I receive?

For your participation in and completion of the class, you will receive CME credits through the Wilderness Medical Society. The credits are AMA, PRA approved category 1 credits. These credits have been accepted for all medical designations, however, you may want to consult your state association for acceptability.

How long does the certification last? How do I get re-certified?

An AWLS certification lasts for 4 years from the completion of your course.

Due to the changing nature of the Wilderness Medical field and the relatively short time frame of our course, we do not offer a re-certification course. Instead you must retake the AWLS course after four years in order to keep your certification. You will be eligible to earn CME credits at this time.

What opportunities exist in Wilderness Medicine once I have completed AWLS?

We first suggest that you consider membership in the Wilderness Medical Society. The WMS offers a fellowship program that will build on the foundation you have established with AWLS and will offer the opportunity to network with other Wilderness Medicine enthusiasts. Visit the WMS website at

How do I become an instructor?

We seek qualified medical professionals that are interested in conducting and/or teaching AWLS, BWLS and WFA courses.

Licensed medical professional
Hold a current AWLS certification (or its equivalent)
Teaching experience in either a traditional medical role or in experiential education
Teach as an AWLS instructor apprentice
Experience in wilderness activities

For BWLS and WFA courses instructor candidates must also complete an instructor application, have experience in wilderness activities and experience in teaching.

To Apply
Complete the Instructor Application and forward it with your Curriculum Vitae and two letters of reference to We will contact you once your application has been reviewed by our Instructor Committee. Once approved you will be eligible to teach as an apprentice at an AWLS course or to conduct a BWLS or WFA course.  Download Instructor Application.

For more information, contact Pat Marrinan, AWLS General Manager via email at

Free Download

Download our new, printable Victim Assessment Field Guide when you subscribe to the AWLS Wilderness Medicine Newsletter.