Inspiring health awareness through education
Story by Dr. Mary Mason, MD, MBA
Here, Genie and Mary are at Washington University, and Mary is a a 4th year medical student.
Dr. Mary Mason, MD, MBA started franchising LMS
LMS student learning about being a pediatrician
I am a doctor’s kid.
My mother was one of four women in her medical school class in 1954. She loved being a physician and did everything she could to get me, my siblings, our cousins, and friends to pursue a career in medicine. As a 6-year-old, I couldn’t wait for her to get home from her office. She would bring me tongue depressors, gauze pads, and bandages for my “doctor’s office” in our playroom. I had a little white coat, stethoscope, and an old-fashion black doctor’s bag… and I felt like a real doctor. At Thanksgiving, we would “suture” the stuffed turkey. As I got older, I learned how to give an injection to an orange. There was no doubt in my mind that medicine was an achievable career path for me, even when adults thoughtlessly reminded of how many years I'd have to go to school, or how hard it would be. It was only later, as a first-year medical student, that I realized how powerful those early experiences were in shaping my conviction to pursue a career in medicine.
In 1998, I was a chief resident in Internal Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, and I decided to recreate my childhood experiences and wrote the first Little Doctor School. I recruited fellow residents and medical students to help me teach. Our first class attended by 13-year-olds surprised me. They were acting silly and weren't embracing the experience as I'd hoped. I went home, gathered up a basketful of white coats and stethoscopes, brought them to the second class, and made the students put them on. Dressed in a white coat with a stethoscope around their neck, the students were engaged, attentive, and having so much fun, they didn’t realize how much they were learning. That was the “Ah-HA” moment. Now, role-play is a key pillar in all Little Medical School programs.
In addition to inspiring children to see themselves in healthcare careers, we teach real life skills. Students learn what to do if there is a medical emergency, how to use a first aid kit, and how to prevent hypothermia. We also stress the importance of a health care professional being a role model. That means taking care of yourself… eating right, exercising, getting your immunizations and flu shot, and not smoking.
We are dedicated and believe in our mission of inspiring and shaping tomorrow’s healthcare professionals, today, through our numerous after-school programs, summer camps, birthday parties, special programs, and our award-winning line of educational toys. My greatest hope is that future medical, nursing, veterinarian, and pharmacy school classes will be filled with Little Medical School graduates!