A person goes to the doctor and gets an earful of information but doesn’t know the right questions to ask. A mother is caring for her son who is sick and wishes she knew whether to take him to the doctor. A curious patient wants to demystify what doctors do.
These are all times when more familiarity with medicine would be helpful. Known as Mini Med School, it is a free eight-week course offered by the University of Colorado Denver that shares medical expertise with anyone wanting to know more. CU was the first university in the country to offer a Mini Med School. Now more than 21,000 people have completed the program.
Professors and doctors give one-hour lectures on Wednesday evenings starting Sept. 2, followed by a question-and-answer session. Lectures are often interactive and include demonstrations. There are no assignments or tests.
“It helps people engage in their own health and learn more about their own health care, what health care is like, and I think anyone can relate to the topics we’re talking about,” says Dennis Boyle, associate professor of medicine at CU and co-director of Mini Med School.
Professors touch on a variety of subjects that change every eight-week session. The upcoming session includes: the art of medicine; a day in the life of an ob/gyn; understanding your sleep; revealing genetics; caring for seriously ill and dying patients; a day in the life of a pediatrician; hypertension; and thyroid disorders.
The lectures are open to people of all ages and attract everyone from stay-at-home parents to lawyers to college students. The lecture holds up to 700 people and it streams online to people throughout Colorado.
Professors hope the lectures help people advocate for their own health and also understand the medical profession, which is not always viewed kindly. “We have a section about the art of medicine and it goes on about how a doctor talks to you and how you talk to your doctors,” Boyle says, noting that CU focuses on building transparency between doctors and patients.
At the end of the program, participants receive a certificate (not a medical degree). Registration is required for Mini Med School. There is currently still space in the first summer session, which began June 8, for those interested in only attending a few lectures. The next session begins in September and registration opens July 1. Visit medschool.ucdenver.edu/minimed, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303.724.0348.