My Experience at Mini Med School Vancouver

This past October and November, I participated in Mini Med School at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute. It was a 6-week speaker seminar, with the theme of “Healthy Starts for a Healthy Life”. Basically, every Wednesday I went to the research institute from 7pm-9pm and listened to different speakers talk about their respective specialties.

I missed the first session, as I was in Gibsons helping out with my school’s grade 8 camp. Therefore, I will only be writing about the five other sessions.

The second session featured a talk about vaccines by Dr. Julie Bettinger, and a talk about global health with Dr. Gina Ogilvie. This was a really fun talk because both speakers were super engaging and funny. We even saw the rates of immunizations in schools, which was really interesting! I learned about how it is important to get immunized to protect people who can’t, and health disparities in detecting cervical cancer around the world.

With the third session, we listened to a talk about mindfulness by  Dr. Dzung X. Vo, and a talk about indigenous-specific health literacy with Darci Rosalie. Dr. Vo started his presentation by asking who in the room was stressed, and I think everyone raised their hand, so it definitely was a relevant talk. I already try to practice mindfulness, but the first talk basically made me a full believer in it, as it really pushed me to enjoy the present moment and feel how I am feeling. The second talk really showed me the importance of health literacy and how it is a challenge for everyone, and how it can be catered to specific communities.

The fourth session featured talks about injury prevention, and how kids might be kept too safe, both by Dr. Mariana Brussoni. We looked at the data recorded about injuries and prevention techniques, and learned about how outdoor play can support child development. It was interesting as Dr. Brussoni took surveys to the injuries people in the room had experienced, and it was crazy seeing the different injuries people had had!

In the fifth session, we listened to a talk about tackling childhood obesity with Dr. Shazhan Amed, and a talk about sexual health with Dr. Wendy Norman. We learned about living 5-2-1-0 and its amazing impacts on the community, had group surveys about our position on questions about sex, and learned about healthy sexuality. To live 5-2-1-0, I would need to cut my time on electronics to two hours each day, so I guess I’m pretty far away from it–I still need to do my homework!

The sixth and final session featured talks about how to get involved in research by Dr. Rebecca Ronsley, and a talk about epigenetics by Dr. Sarah Moore. We first learned about how Dr. Ronsley’s success in research started with 50 emails to different labs, and I learned what the epigenetic clock is!

The program is open to students in grades 10, 11, and 12, and I would definitely recommend others to talk to their school to get them nominated to go! Although I currently am not planning on pursuing medicine or medical research, it was super informative and interesting to listen to! Since school was stressful in those months, it was nice to have two hours set aside each week where I could just sit and listen to amazing speakers. The talks are even available online, so if you have some spare time, I would give them a watch!

Shaughnessy Building (BC Children’s Hospital) ©, Jeff Hitchcock CC BY 2.0

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