February 17, 2015
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
As a ski doctor your workplace would be the medical facility at a commercial ski centre, where you will work with a ski nurse. The medical centre is the first point of medical care for patients injured on the slopes. Your day would start by first checking in on all of patients at the first aid room.
In addition to receiving patients brought into the facility by ski patrollers, you would also have to respond at the scene to attend to more serious accidents and deal with any type of medical emergency that occurs on the ski slopes. Ski doctors remain ‘on call’ throughout their shift.
Typically, when an injury is reported, it is the ski patrollers who respond to the call and render First Aid to the injured skier. First Aid at the scene could range from splinting, oxygen or spinal immobilisation. The patient is them transported to the base medical centre where you will do a thorough assessment of the injury and give appropriate treatment.
If the injury is more severe and beyond the scope of the First Aid attendants, for example if the patient has airway problems and is unconscious, you will be transported to the scene on a ski-doo to provide advanced care.
Mornings are usually slow for ski doctors as skiers are still preparing for the day. The busiest time of the day is usually late afternoon till the lifts shut down, which is around early evening.
Ski doctors attend to a variety of injuries ranging from mild to serious.
Some of the most common injuries on the ski slopes are ankle, wrist, elbow and knee sprains all of which require conservative management. Dislocated shoulders and fractures are also relatively common. Milder injuries and fractures are treated at the ski medical centre but in case of more serious fractures, patients are usually transported by ambulance to the nearest hospital.
More serious injuries you will encounter include patients who are unconscious because of a head injury or any other trauma. Patients who are in critical condition are picked up by local air rescue helicopter and transported directly to the hospital. Treatment en route is given by a doctor and paramedic on board the chopper.
To practice as a ski doctor you will need to have a minimum 6 months accident and emergency experience. Considering that most ski centres do not have a full fledged support staff and keeping in mind the kind of injuries that you are most likely to encounter on the job, having some orthopaedic experience would hold you in good stead.