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Med Educ Online. 2015 Dec 23;20:29561. doi: 10.3402/meo.v20.29561. eCollection 2015.

Mini-med school for Aboriginal youth: experiential science outreach to tackle systemic barriers.

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Department of Family Medicine, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada;
Department of Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada.
Department of Family Medicine, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada.



Addressing systemic barriers experienced by low-income and minority students to accessing medical school, the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine has spearheaded a year-round, mini-med school outreach initiative for Aboriginal students.


Junior and senior high school youth generally attend the half-day program in classes or camps of 15-25, breaking into small groups for multisession activities. Undergraduate medical education students mentor the youth in stations offering experiential lessons in physical examination, reading x-rays, and anatomy. All resources from the medical school are offered in-kind, including a pizza lunch at midday, whereas community partners organize transportation for the attendees.


Opening the medical school and its resources to the community offers great benefits to resource-constrained schools often limited in terms of science education resources. The model is also an effort to address challenges among the medical professions around attracting and retaining students from underserved populations.


The prospect of increasing admission rates and successful completion of medical education among students from marginalized communities poses a real, though difficult-to-measure, possibility of increasing the workforce most likely to return to and work in such challenging contexts. A mini-medical school for Aboriginal youth highlights mutual, long-term benefit for diverse partners, encouraging medical educators and community-based science educators to explore the possibilities for deepening partnerships in their own regions.


Indigenous; community engagement; low-income; minority students; outreach; science education; youth

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