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Wilderness is this Doc's Emergency Department, Classroom, Passion

Ryan Chiavetta, for HealthLeaders Media, April 29, 2014

A stint working at an AIDS hospice in Zambia and a run on the reality show Survivor are among the experiences that helped guide Gabriel Cade, MD, toward a fellowship in wilderness medicine, a growing subspecialty of emergency medicine.

This is the extended version of an article that will appear in the May 2014 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.


Gabriel Cade, MD

Gabriel Cade, MD

The road that Gabriel Cade, MD, took before starting his career in medicine is unorthodox, having taken him from a small North Carolina farm to a teaching job in France, travels throughout Europe, a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail, hospice work in Africa, a bartending gig, and a spot on a reality show set on a tropical island.

But considering the field of medicine he practices now, it was the right way to go.

Cade is an emergency medicine physician and a wilderness medicine fellow at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA. Wilderness medicine is a relatively new subspecialty of emergency medicine, focusing on treating patients in remote areas and tough situations without the luxuries of a hospital setting.

Wilderness medicine further breaks down into two subcategories. Disaster medicine involves going to an area that has been unexpectedly hit with a traumatic event, most often a natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina, or the Haiti earthquakes. Expedition medicine, on the other hand, is more recreation rather than response, which Cade likens to being a team doctor on a trip through the Amazon.

Cade's journey to the medical field started after the second time he dropped out of college. An avid traveler, he went to Africa to work in an AIDS hospice in Zambia, along with other work in Zimbabwe and Batswana. It was an experience that greatly moved him.

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