Mini Med School brings health care experience to Missouri high school students

2024 Mizzou Mini Med School

More than 50 Missouri high school juniors recently attended the 15th annual MU Mini Med School. During two separate week-long sessions, campers were introduced to patient-based learning; gained hands-on experience in anatomy, microbiology and clinical skills; attended seminars; and interacted with current MU School of Medicine students, faculty and staff.

Eight current MU medical students served as counselors during the two sessions, including second-year medical student Courtney Colench. The Rolla, Missouri, native was a Mini Med School participant herself, attending the interactive camp in 2017.

As she looks back at her first time on MU’s campus seven years ago, Colench credits her experience at Mini Med School for cementing her future career aspirations to become a physician.

“I remember sitting in the Health Sciences Library and researching my ‘meningitis prevalence’ objective for camp, and really learning about why this given disease process was happening,” said Colench. “I can still recall feeling that bubbling excitement in my chest that came over me, and that was the first time that I realized that medicine really fueled me. It set the trajectory of the next eight years of my life

Courtney Colench (left) and Chelsea Colench (right) at their respective first day of Mizzou Mini Med.
Courtney Colench (left) and Chelsea Colench (right) at their respective first day of Mizzou Mini Med.

For Colench, the MU Mini Med School experience truly came full circle this summer, as her younger sister, Chelsea, attended her first Mini Med camp. As Courtney serves a unique role as both a big sister and camp counselor, she knows this experience will only catapult Chelsea to bigger and better things.

“Last year, we realized that our timing would match up for our respective Mini Med School experiences and thought to ourselves, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if you were a camper and I was one of your counselors?’” said Colench. “To have that actually happen is very surreal, and I feel like we manifested this moment together. During the camp small sessions, I saw that Chelsea was pushing the bounds of her knowledge, and learning and enjoying the whole process. I hope she and all the campers see how fun and fulfilling the world of medicine can be.”

Amanda Webb ’19 served as the project coordinating overseeing Mini Med this year. From hands-on experience in The Russel D. and Mary B Shelden Clinical Simulation Center, to coordinating guest lectures, and interactive activities across campus, Webb schedules an action-packed session for campers each day.

For 15 years, a new wave of aspiring medical students treks to mid-Missouri each summer for Mini Med and never fail to impress those who run the event.

“Year after year, I’m amazed at the skills and talent these campers possess,” said Webb. “Some come with a wealth of medical knowledge, while others are limited. Our job as staff members is to show the students from limited backgrounds that they, too, belong in a white coat. We want to celebrate the differences in their journeys in medicine and serve as their cheerleaders along every step of the way.”

Webb is honored to provide such a unique opportunity for young students in the state of Missouri.

“It brings me a ton of gratitude knowing that MU and the School of Medicine are able to provide such an important experience for these campers at such a meaningful time in their lives,” said Webb. “Without events like Mini Med, we wouldn’t have the ability to reach students across Missouri who were passionate about health care in areas with limited access.”

Current high school juniors across Missouri participate in 2024 MU Mini Medical School.
Current high school juniors across Missouri participate in 2024 MU Mini Medical School.
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