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Healthy Balance

Mini-Med School: No Studying or Tuition Required

When I was little, I dreamed about being a doctor or nurse and treated all my dolls’ ailments and illnesses with my toy medicine bag. However, a complete lack of ability and interest in high school chemistry led my parents and guidance counselors to gently point me down the liberal arts path.

But I didn’t forget my childhood interest in medicine, and five years ago, I started working here at UVA and finally got to go to medical school. Of course, I didn’t actually get a medical degree, but I learned a lot. And it didn’t even matter that I had forgotten all of that high school chemistry.

UVA’s Mini-Med School gave me the chance to learn more about medical topics and research from School of Medicine faculty. This free program meets once a week for seven weeks, and it’s open to community members, including high school students and UVA faculty and staff.

The curriculum includes:

  • “The Faces of Anatomy,” a super-condensed version of the anatomy class medical students take their first year
  • “Hypertension: The Silent Disease,” an interview with a patient who has high blood pressure and an overview of its causes, prevention and treatment
  • “Immunology and AIDs,” which includes the future of the epidemic, how the immune system responds and treatment and prevention research
  • “Hormones and Cells: The Ups and Downs of Blood Sugar,” which also looks at the causes of diabetes and new research and treatments
  •  “Cancer: When Good Cells Go Bad,” a look at why cells mutate and how this leads to cancer
  • “Research in Action: A Tour of a Research Lab,” where participants are divided into small groups to see medical research first-hand

Mini-Med School 2011 is Sept. 7 – Oct. 19 and meets every Wednesday from 6:30-9 p.m. in the new Claude Moore Medical Education Building. The application is due Aug. 1.

Giving up Wednesday nights may sound like a sacrifice. But when I attended these sessions, I never wanted to be anywhere else. During the anatomy lesson, our instructor, Barry Hinton, used a probe and a camera to show us the vocal cords of a volunteer. Everyone said, “Eww!” but on the last night of class weeks later, people were still talking about it.

Interested in mini-med school? Learn more and apply online by Aug. 1.

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