Mini-Med School a Major Success
"Mini-medical school", as it is known, is designed for the everyday person. It was sponsored for the first time this spring by UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS). The program, a very abbreviated version of the real thing, cost $25 and ran for eight consecutive Wednesday evenings at the school's New Brunswick campus. Faculty members from the school spoke on such topics as the heart, childhood obesity, hormone replacement therapy, reconstructive and plastic surgery and the latest in cancer treatments.
Besides learning about symptoms and treatments, participants also learned how to determine if a workplace environment is safe and how to effectively communicate with a physician. Denise V. Rodgers, MD, associate dean for community medicine at RWJMS, told the group at the final session, "Everything you've learned in the last seven weeks is for naught if you can't effectively interact with your doctor." The program concluded with graduation, complete with certificates.
According to Harold L. Paz, MD, dean of RWJMS, public interest in the program was high: 300 New Jerseyans applied for the 150 available slots. One women, it was reported, called and asked to please be admitted to this class rather than the one planned for the fall. "I'm 76 and I might not be around next year," she pleaded.
"Students" ranged in age from 11 to 72. The first "class" included engineers, lawyers, teachers, middle- and high-school students and retirees. The youngest participant was Amanda Linde, a sixth-grader from Fords, who hopes to one day become a pediatric neurologist. Amanda's mother Judy, who also enrolled, said her daughter has been watching surgery on television since she was four. "I like watching it. It doesn't bother me at all," said Amanda. "I like science a lot."
A high-schooler from New Brunswick who plans to go to medical school said he believes the program will give him an edge on the competition. "It's going to look great on my med school application that I'm interested now," he noted. And a retired medical laboratory technician signed up to keep her brain "from getting rusty."
Bill Morgan, 68, had very personal reasons for attending. His son died of bone cancer and his first wife died of breast cancer. He himself had prostate cancer, but doctors say he is now clear. "You want to know about the latest research and treatments," the Avenel man said. "You want to protect yourself, live one more day. It may not help, but it's certainly not going to do any harm."
Fall 1998 Table of Contents