MINI-MED SCHOOL: Public Flocks to Overview Courses
Mini-medical schools, quick courses designed for the curious public rather than prospective doctors, are cropping up around the country "as a way to demystify what doctors do," the New York Times reports in a look at the six-day course at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "I think the public at large ends up thinking that all doctors just have nice cars and make a lot of money, and don't think that the doctors spend a lot of time interacting with the community," said Susan Phillips, associate dean of external relations at Mount Sinai. The hands-on course, the Times reports, perhaps even "create[s] a little public good will at a time when the medical profession is not always viewed kindly." In its second year, the popular program touches on diagnosis, anesthesia, radiology, cancer biology, transplants and medical ethics one evening a week for six weeks. Dr. J. John Cohen, professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, organized the first mini-medical school in 1990 and has seen similar courses pop up in New York, Atlanta and in smaller cities around the country. Downplaying the explanation that simple curiosity fuels interest in the class, Cohen suggests that managed care has "meant that most people don't get to talk to their own doctors as much as they would like to." As a result, he said, "people jump at the chance to spend hours with doctors and have their questions answered." He said, "I have my clinical friends who tell me they're seeing 30 patients a day. They don't even have time to say hello" (Kennedy, New York Times, 4/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.