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The rapidly increasing need to address health and safety for adventure travel and wilderness experiences has stimulated the growth of a medical subspecialty concerned with management of medical problems in the field. Expedition medicine is an evolving subset of this discipline with a narrower focus on remote environments.

Expedition medicine has been likened to military medicine for the civilian. Elements common to both include preventive medicine, field communication, transportation, experience with tropical and infectious disease, knowledge of medical problems peculiar to extreme environments, and emergency medicine. Furthermore, expedition medicine requires awareness of public health and local environmental issues as well as knowledge about local health resources. In time of crisis, the expedition medical officer is often expected to be calm in the midst of chaos and to provide services that may exceed their specific medical training, increasing the already stressful circumstances.