Undersea & Hyperbaric Medicine

Undersea & Hyperbaric Medicine

Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine addresses the health and safety of the diving community, as well as the range of illnesses which respond to hyperbaric oxygen (HBO). These include decompression sickness, carbon monoxide poisoning, gas embolism, osteoradionecrosis, and the healing of problem wounds. Daily responsibilities for professionals in this aerospace-related field of medicine vary significantly depending upon the geographical location of the hyperbaric chamber. Thus, hyperbaric specialists located in coastal regions generally treat a higher proportion of divers, as opposed to chambers more inland which may treat non-healing wounds more commonly. Numerous opportunities exist to gain experience in multiplace and monoplace chambers. Regardless, innovative applications for high pressure oxygen keep this field on the cutting edge of medicine.

Formal training is usually obtained through a fellowship either within the military or in civilian chamber facilities. The US Air Force conducts a 1-year fellowship currently open to U.S./international military and active duty or reserve physicians who have completed at least one accredited residency program. This facility sponsors rotations and formal training programs for nurses, medical students, and technicians with similar U.S. and international military affiliations. The U.S. Navy provides hyperbaric medicine training to physicians at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City , Florida , certifying them as Hyperbaric Medicine Advisors. They offer a three-year residency in Undersea Medicine at the Naval Undersea Medical Institute in Groton , Connecticut . In addition, there are a host of civilian academic chambers which provide fellowship experiences and rotations for interested health professions from a variety of backgrounds.

Focused courses addressing various applications of high pressure oxygen therapy are offered by several organizations listed below. Topics range from introductory courses in hyperbaric therapy to transcutaneous oxygen monitoring. Many list course offerings in the U.S. and abroad, and several qualify for continuing education accreditation.

The American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM) has recently reinstituted an accreditation examination for specialists in undersea and hyperbaric medicine. They offer refresher courses for this examination, as well as others under the auspices of Preventive Medicine. Currently, the examination is given annually, and qualified applicants can obtain more information by contacting the ABPM for further details.

Additional Information:

Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society

Divers Alert Network (DAN)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration