Heaton Research

Washington University Mini Medical School

My wife and I just finished the Mini-Med series at Washington University in St. Louis.
Mini-Med is a program offered by WashU that allows laypeople to learn about medicine.
Each night is taught by a world class expert in their field. The biographies of these
lecturers is absolutely amazing! These are some of the doctors who are pushing the
boundaries of human understanding in medicine!

There are three different courses offered in Mini-Med.

  • Mini-Med 1: Lectures and some hands-on labs. I learned to suture and used a laparoscopy simulator. I also got to tour the Washington University Genome Institute.
  • Mini-Med 2: Lectures and more hands-on labs. I saw specimens of human organs from cadavers, became CPR certified, learned to examine patients, attended a posture lab, and took a walking tour of the medical school.
  • Mini-Med 3: Revolves more around patient stories and MD’s providing information on their cases.

The Mini-Med courses are taught around the typical semester schedule. There are no
classes during the summer semester. At the end of each class you are given a certificate,
if you attended the required number of class sessions. This is me at the Mini-Med
graduation ceremony!

Jeff Graduates Mini-Med
Jeff graduating Mini-Med 2

I really enjoyed the hand-on labs. I particularly enjoyed trying my hand at microsurgery.
My wife and I also earned our CPR certification. Most of the labs were led by medical
students, residents and postdocs. They were very knowledgeable, and it was interesting
talking with some of them about their medical school journey. We really enjoyed learning
from them.

Jeff trying his hand at microsurgery

One night we saw human organ specimens from cadavers. It was fascinating to be able
to hold and examine vital organs. We saw specimens of hearts, kidneys, bladders,
the GI track, and even the brain! Seeing two human brains was fascinating.
Being an AI/Machine Learning programmer, it was fascinating to see the “real thing”.

Jeff holding a human brain

My wife, Tracy, and I are both life-long learners. We are both involved in graduate
programs. So this is right up our alley. Tracy is earning a masters degree in Spanish.
So she found it fascinating to see the actual “voice box” that she has seen many times
in her linguistics texts. It was fascinating for us both to learn valuable knowledge
from outside out fields of study.

I work as a data scientist for a life insurance company and also working on a doctorate
of Computer Science. I use predictive modeling for insurance underwriting. Life
underwriting has much affinity with medicine. The two Mini-Med classes have given me
valuable information for my job. As a data scientist it is very useful to learn about
the knowledge domain that you are attempting to analyze. In addition to Mini-Med I also
worked on the Johns Hopkins Coursera Data Science specialization this semester.