Shadowing a Doctor

May 29, 2015

Spend your weekend at the Adriatic Sea Hyperbaric medicine is what you will need to specialise in if you are looking for a way to combine your interest in medicine with your passion for diving.

What is Hyperbaric Medicine?

During a dive, divers breathe 100% oxygen whilst under pressure in a hyperbaric chamber. This combination of increased oxygen and increased pressure can create several serious health problems such as decompression sickness, barotraumas or nitrogen narcosis.

Hyperbaric medicine is a medical specialty that focuses on treating these diving-related conditions. It also deals with a few other conditions such as radiation tissue damage, carbon monoxide poisoning, diabetic foot ulcers and other hard-to-heal wounds.

Doctors who specialise in hyperbaric medicine are called dive doctors. These specialists are pivotal in providing pre and post dive advice as well as hyperbaric and medical treatment to recreational and commercial divers. They also provide consultations to divers requiring heart scans or breathing tests.

Hyperbaric Medicine Physician Courses

The Aberdeen Hyperbaric Medicine Unit, which is part of Aberdeen University and Diving Diseases Research Centre (DDRC) are two of the select organisations that offer recognised courses in dive medicine in the UK.

Another option is the Royal Navy Dive Medicine Course. This is a 5-day course that is held twice a year.

Course Prerequisites

To enrol in a dive medicine physician course you will need to have a Primary Medical Degree (IMG) and/or a Full GMC Registration.

You will also need to have completed the online Diving Medicine Module provided by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd).  This module typically runs over 3 months and covers all of the academic content and key concepts of dive medicine including the medical observation of divers and organisms specific to the marine environment and the management of associated medical conditions and emergency situations.

Only medically qualified applicants who have successfully completed the online Diving Medicine Module are eligible to enrol in a hyperbaric medicine physician course.

What You Will Study In A Hyperbaric Medicine Course

Hyperbaric medicine or dive medicine is taught using a combination of traditional lectures and problem based learning. Courses will also include classroom lectures, skills station scenarios as well as site visits to commercial dive sites.

Dive courses are usually split into two levels:

  • Level 1

Qualifies you for recreational diving accident management. Doctors who successfully pass Level 1 are eligible to apply to the UK Sport Diving Medical Committee (SDMC) to become a Sport Diving Medical Referee. They are also eligible to entry into the higher Level 2 course.

  • Level 2  

This builds upon Level 1. It addresses both recreational as well as commercial diving accident management. Completing this level will qualify you to work as an advisor to the offshore diving industry and other commercial diving operations. You will also be qualified to advise on fitness to dive.

To maximise learning and appreciation of the diving equipment used, students are encouraged to participate in all aspects of diving including a brief pressurisation in a hyperbaric chamber

Not sure whether this is the right path for you? DDRC offers a 1-day taster course, which is perfect for any medical student or doctor who wants to gain an insight into diving and hyperbaric medicine.

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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.