I am continually in awe of the dedication and commitment of our faculty. I see it every day, across all mission areas, but the most recent example is the completion of another successful year of our Mini Medical School. This is an annual, free community program held for seven consecutive Wednesdays in September and October. Led by Program Director Dr. Sean Reed, with the help of Cathy Bowers, Colleen Kiernan, Daisy Hutcherson, and Elizabeth Graham, it’s taught by volunteer School of Medicine faculty and over 60 medical school students.
Mini-Med allows us to raise health literacy within our community. As Sean says, we can do some of this at the bedside but we can further our reach by engaging the population outside of the formal confines of a healthcare system.
Our work empowers participants in the program to be effective partners in receiving healthcare services. We do this by teaching them about the medical interview process and clinical reasoning — which gives them better insights and context into the healthcare process — but we also teach them real-life skills, like how to check blood pressure, assess the signs and symptoms of stroke, know the importance of nutrition, and how to understand the value of the healthcare they are receiving. It helps community members as individuals and has a halo effect of helping those around them at home, work, school, or church. We’re a public resource and, as such, Mini-Med is an opportunity to bring information to the public directly about important topics like new screening measures, MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) education, or new-to-market vaccines.
Mini-Med dedicates an entire evening to biomedical research. The classes are divided into small groups (done via a mock Match Day process, which is fun) and they each visit one of our labs. Here they learn about the connection between basic science and clinical research, and the medicine they ultimately may receive as a patient. For many of our participants, this is their first exposure to the continuum of how medicine is developed and delivered.
Naturally, no proper schooling would be complete without field trips. Participants can come early on some evenings to learn about our services through tours of facilities such as the Interventional Radiology suite, the Simulation Center and the rare books library collection. Just like our own medical students, participants are exposed to active learning techniques and small-group discussions, and are taught physical exam skills in the Clinical Skills Center.
This is a long-winded way of saying thank you. Thank you to our faculty. Thank you to our staff. Thank you to our students who recently helped graduate the MMS18 (Mini-Med School Class of 2018). The feedback we receive on this program is staggeringly positive. Without your efforts, this program would not be possible.
R.J. Canterbury, MD, MS, DLFAPA
Wilford W. Spradlin Professor
Senior Associate Dean for Education