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

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

February 9, 2001

Maybe you chose to go to law school or enter the business world. Or, maybe you just slept through 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?

To find out, 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, eight-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, Randolph at Michigan, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, March 6 through April 24, 2001.

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 Michael Roizen, MD, professor and chairman of the department of anesthesia and critical care at the University and unofficial "Dean" of the Mini-Med School.

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

Roizen adds that Mini-Med School's emphasis is on fun. "Sharing new knowledge should be enjoyable for both teacher and student," says Roizen. We've designed the process to minimize the struggles and the stress of a full-sized medical school, but to retain some of the wonder and 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 Neil Shubin and orthopedic surgeon Lawrence Pottenger. Both will describe how form follows function, but Shubin, an authority on how salamanders evolved over the past 150 million years, will talk about where human anatomy originated, while Pottenger will discuss artificial joints -- imperfect man-made anatomical structures that are still rapidly evolving. "The Mini-Med School has an obligation to reveal modern medicine's limits as well as its promise," says Pottenger.

This year, Mini-Med School will offer a popular new course on aging, taught by Roizen, author of the book RealAge: Are You as Young as You Can Be? Roizen will discuss some of the most common and effective ways to reduce your "RealAge," as well as how behavioral choices can alter the rate of aging. "People attending Mini-Med School are already getting younger because being a life-long learner and remaining intellectually involved makes your RealAge as much as 2.4 years younger," says Roizen.

In 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, there will be an open forum. The class will examine actual cases where the wishes of a child or his parents were in conflict with each other, with the law, or with social norms.

More than 1,750 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 than the real thing. The 300 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 at 1-888-UCH-0200. People registering for the entire series will have priority; seats for individual courses will be available only as space permits.