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Tufts Mini Med School: Is it a Worthwhile Experience?

Are you considering a future in medicine? Then maybe an immersive "Mini Med School" program is the right fit for you! Geared towards motivated individuals aspiring to pursue medical school or other healthcare professions, Tufts Mini Med School offers an exclusive opportunity to study alongside Tufts University School of Medicine, a distinguished institution in the medical field.


These programs are taught by medical students and faculty primarily affiliated with Tufts University and the Center on Infectious Diseases and Immunology.  The program also covers diverse subjects like anatomy surgery, discussions on medical diversity, and guidance for prospective medical careers.


You can read more about the program here, where we will delve into the structure, application, important dates and deadlines, and eligibility, followed by a pros and cons analysis. Keep reading to see if this program is the right fit for you! 


What is Tuft’s Mini Med School about? 

As a part of Tufts University's pre-college program, the Mini Med School is a summer experience that aims to provide high school students with the opportunity to engage in a series of programs taught by medical students and faculty to mimic the real-world experience of students in medical school

The program features 5 "strands" of studies, which include Clinical Diagnostics, Site Visits and Clinical Skills, Lectures on Medical Topics, Medical Case Studies, and a Capstone project. 

From here, students can select a 2-week lecture and on-campus Clinical intensive program or a 1-week Clinical Lab intensive program. 


How is the Mini Med School structured? 

The Mini Med School program offers two distinct sessions: Session 1, exclusively for commuters, runs from June 24 to 26, while Session 2 spans from July 21 to 26. Held at Tufts University's Medford/Somerville Campus, the program includes enriching trips to Tufts Medical School and various medical and research institutions. 


Its important to note that some sessions are commuter only labeled as session one, while in person takes place under session 2. 


Both sessions have two courses which include clinical experiences and careers in medicine which are both open to residential and commuter students. Just at different dates. 

Designed for students entering grades 11-12 in Fall 2023 or graduating high school in Spring 2024, the program requires at least one year of biology coursework, with participants required to be 16 years old by the program's commencement. These sessions provide an engaging opportunity to explore medical sciences and healthcare perspectives within an esteemed academic setting.


The program commences with a mandatory orientation and campus tour, covering the program schedule, policies, safety measures, and introductions to Teaching Assistants (TAs). It uniquely combines site visits to the Tufts medical campus, clinical skill-building exercises, and engaging activities.


Participants gain hands-on experience at the Clinical Skills and Simulation Center, engage in anatomy lab tours, and participate in a clinical diagnostic lab, "The Tragic Case of Stan," requiring completion of online health and safety training. The program also offers insights into various healthcare careers through interactions with professionals. Students stay on Tufts' Medford campus and attend activities there and at the medical campus, with field trips to prominent healthcare institutions in Boston, contingent upon evolving pandemic regulations.


What does a sample schedule look like?

You can find a sample schedule based on an in-person iteration at this link!



A glimpse into Tufts Mini Med School!
A glimpse into Tufts Mini Med School!

What are the associated costs with the program?

The program runs a commuter and residential fee, which differs based on the program selected. 


The Commuter Program Fee is $3,400 and includes program activities, select campus facilities, excursions, and staff-accompanied airport transfers during specified times. Exclusions cover residential accommodations, certain meals, travel expenses, extra course fees, laundry, personal expenses, insurance, medical costs, and anything unspecified.


A separate residential program Fee of $4,200 includes program activities, lab materials, accommodations, meals, facility use, excursions, bedding, 24-hour residential care, and staff-guided airport transfers within set periods. 


Exclusions are similar to the commuter fee. A non-refundable $550 deposit secures enrollment, applied toward program fees, due within ten days of admission, and is non-refundable upon program withdrawal. Full tuition payment is required by May 15. 


Note: International students must submit a separate fee for associated health fees. Health insurance and associated vaccinations are required, ranging between $100-300 per vaccine.

 

Is there financial aid? 

Tufts Pre-College Programs strive to support students from diverse backgrounds, offering limited need-based financial aid to aid those most in need. The aid is allocated on a rolling basis to eligible students, ensuring their successful participation in the program.


What is the eligibility and application process like?

Eligibility for Tufts Pre-College Programs requires high school students entering grades 11-12 by Fall 2023 or recent Spring 2023 graduates, with a year of biology coursework mandatory. Residential students must be aged 15 at the start and at most 19 by the program's end. While international students are welcome, the program does not sponsor visas. Non-native English speakers may need to demonstrate proficiency. The application process involves:

  • Completing an online form.

  • Submitting a high school transcript through a designated contact.

  • Obtaining parental consent.

Materials must be received before the application is reviewed. Admissions decisions, made on a rolling basis, arrive within ten business days after receiving all documents. 


Is Tuft’s Mini Med School prestigious? 

The program website states that admission is highly competitive and slots fill up quickly.


The program's costs are significant, and something that would likely weigh down the prestige factor when compared so, say, a program like SIMR. The breadth of topics covered is pretty impressive. The eligibility criteria is also somewhat restrictive. This program is pretty solid for a pre-college offering, and we’d think that if you work well on a good capstone project, impress a faculty member for a recommendation letter, then you’ve managed to add a pretty prestigious offering to your profile. 


Pros and Cons of the Tufts Mini-Med Program

Pros:

1. Be part of an immersive learning experience

Tufts Mini Med School offers an exclusive opportunity to learn directly from Tufts University's School of Medicine faculty and medical students. It provides insights into diverse healthcare topics, surgeries, and anatomy, setting it apart from traditional academic experiences.

2. Gain hands-On Experience

 Engaging in clinical skills, diagnostic labs, and simulation exercises offers practical, real-world experiences, allowing participants to immerse themselves in medical scenarios and better understand various healthcare career paths.

3. Build a valuable network and open doors to future prospects

 Interacting with faculty and peers during the program creates valuable networking opportunities, potentially paving the way for future collaborations and connections within the medical community. The program offers students to take courses and collaborate with faculty and current med school students to aid in building their academic profile. 

Cons:

1. Be prepared to shell out a significant sum of money

The program's fees, especially for residential attendance, can be significant, potentially posing a financial challenge for some applicants and limiting accessibility based on financial constraints.

2. Be prepared for little or no financial aid

Despite offering need-based financial aid, the availability is limited, and international students are ineligible, potentially restricting the program's accessibility to a broader audience.

3. The restrictive dates might hold you back

Because these sessions only take place on a given week for both commuter and residential students, you may not be able to participate. It is also broken up into a 2 week or 1 week program which also may be too short for your experience expectations in a research medicine program. 


Our take on the Tuft's Mini-Med program

This is a pretty comprehensive program, and the only significant drawback, in our mind, is the significant cost associated with it. That being said, if the breadth of topics is something you are interested in, you should consider this program. 


Especially, if you do not think that you have a profile competitive enough for programs like SIMR, then this could be a good way for you to gain some experience (albeit, an expensive route). You will face some competition here as well, but we’d think the level will be a notch or two below what you’d face in SIMR.


However, if you have a strong aptitude for medical sciences, you should try to aim for some of the more prestigious programs.



Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you want to do research in medicine, consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Tenzing Dolma is a master's student specializing in research following the Nechung Oracle and the historical, religious, and cognitive approaches to its presence. She has a bachelor's in Neuroscience from Loyola University Chicago and is completing her graduate studies at Columbia University. She hopes to help students find their passions through access to programs and organizations the same way she found hers!


Image Source: Tufts University College


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