Mini-Med School: Popular Mini-Med School offers second chance for those still curious

Mini-Med School

Popular Mini-Med School offers second chance for those still curious

February 2, 1998

Maybe you chose to go to law school or enter the business world. Or, maybe you just overslept chemistry class or played too much frisbee on the quad. For whatever reason, like most people, you didn't go to medical school. Still think you've got what it takes?

All you need is a sense of curiosity and some free evenings this spring. The University of Chicago's award-winning Mini-Med School is a free, 10-week series of easy-to-understand, entertaining and educational lectures for the general public. The Mini-Med School will meet downtown at the Cultural Center, Washington at Michigan, from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. Tuesdays, March 3 through May 5, 1998.

Though graduates of the Mini-Med School won't be eligible to practice medicine, they will receive a certificate upon successful completion of the program. More importantly, they will be better-informed citizens and patients, according to the host of the program, internationally known cancer surgeon Glenn D. Steele Jr., MD, PhD, dean of the biological sciences and the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago.

"The quest for new understanding of life and a degree of mastery over disease is the most exciting adventure we pursue as a society," says Dr. Steele. "But physicians and scientists cannot make this journey alone. The decisions we face affect everyone, the costs are borne by everyone, and the treasures we find belong to everyone."

Steele's co-host, Michael Roizen, MD, chairman of the department of anesthesia and critical care at the University of Chicago, agrees but adds that the Mini-Med School's emphasis is on fun. "Sharing new knowledge should be enjoyable for both teacher and student," said Roizen. "We've designed the process to minimize the struggles and the stress of full-sized medical school, but to retain some of the wonder and the wisdom."

Each lecture will be a "course" in a subject covered in medical school. The classes are taught by some of the university's leading physicians and scientists, who are paired up to offer sometimes divergent views on their topic. For example, the first course, Anatomy 101: Building the Bionic Human, will be taught by paleontologist Paul Sereno and orthopedic surgeon Lawrence Pottenger. Both will describe how form follows function, but Sereno will explain how the dinosaur hip evolved 200 million years ago, while Pottenger will discuss artificial hip joints--which, he admits, are still evolving. "The Mini-Med School has an obligation to reveal modern medicine's limits as well as its promise," says Pottenger.

Other Mini-Med courses will explore infectious diseases, biochemistry, genetics and gene therapy, clinical judgment, immunology and auto-immune diseases, drug development, neuroscience, and cancer. After each class there will be ample time for questions and informal conversation--and even some hands-on demonstrations.

The final course, Medical Ethics 101: Do Parents Know Best? Pediatric Medical Ethics, taught by ethicists John Lantos, MD, author of "Do We Still Need Doctors," and Ann Dudley Goldblatt, JD, will feature an open forum. The class will examine actual cases where the wishes of a child or its parents were in conflict with each other, with the law, or with social norms.

More than 1,250 Chicagoans have "graduated" from the University of Chicago Mini-Med School since it debuted in 1995. It has proved almost as hard to get into as the real thing: the 300 available seats fill quickly, and many people must be put on a waiting list. In 1996 the University of Chicago Mini-Med School received the Spectra Award of Excellence from the International Association of Business Communicators, Chicago Chapter.

Enrollment in the Mini-Med School is limited. Registration is being accepted toll-free at 1-888-UCH-0200. People registering for the entire series will have priority; seats for individual courses will be available only if space permits.