Mini-Med School at National College of Natural Medicine May 1 & 2

Weekend immersion program offers hands-on medical school experience

Marilynn Considine

PORTLAND, Ore. (April 27, 2010)—National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) is hosting Oregon Mini-Med this weekend, Saturday, May 1 – Sunday, May 2, for bio-science high school students, future doctors and other health enthusiasts. The new program is designed to give participants of all ages a taste of medical school by immersing them in a hands-on, high-quality course, to be held at NCNM.

Medical school faculty from NCNM, OHSU, and Legacy Good Samaritan will teach program participants gross anatomy, pathology, immunology, diagnostics, and treatment of disease. The Mini-Med discussion topics are memory and Alzheimer’s on Saturday, and pain and inflammation on Sunday.

Mini-Med students will be split into small study groups that rotate through the building blocks of medical science. Participating students will learn the unique medical perspectives and the various approaches to diagnosis and treatment offered by naturopathic, Chinese and conventional Western medicine.

Heather Zwickey, Ph.D., director of NCNM’s Helfgott Research Institute, says that by offering students various medical approaches to disease, they can better understand the benefits offered by each form of medicine.

Zwickey had been incubating the idea of creating an NCNM Mini-Med program since she helped develop such programs at Yale and the University of Colorado. “The idea came from a combination of things I’ve done in the past. As a grad student in immunology, I worked on organizing Mini-Med programs for adults who wanted to know more about med school, or for patients who wanted in-depth education about specific diseases, like cancer.” Zwickey noted that both types of Mini-Med programs were popular—classrooms were always filled to capacity with long waiting lists.

Zwickey had the idea to create a hands-on student experience when she designed a high school student outreach program that focused on immunology and mouse dissection. “The experiential curriculum is far and away the most compelling attraction for new students. Human gross anatomy is a key feature of Mini-Med,” Zwickey says, adding, ”The experience of learning becomes more immediate when students can see and touch organs that are being discussed.”

The Mini-Med program is the second in a series offered by the medical college. The pilot program held in 2009 covered cancer and H1N1 flu. The next Oregon Mini-Med program in the series, scheduled Aug. 17 and 18, will cover global health, with discussion topics on infectious diseases, such as HIV, malaria, parasites and tuberculosis.

ABOUT NCNM: Founded in 1956, NCNM is the oldest accredited naturopathic medical school in North America. A nonprofit college of natural medicine, NCNM offers four-year degree programs in Naturopathic Medicine and Classical Chinese Medicine. The NCNM Clinic and its associated community teaching clinics offer free and low-cost medical care throughout the Portland metropolitan area, with approximately 40,000 patient visits per year. NCNM’s Helfgott Research Institute is a nonprofit research institute that conducts rigorous independent research to advance the science of natural medicine in order to improve clinical practice. Until July 2006, NCNM was known as the National College of Naturopathic Medicine.