Child patient volunteers enjoy second annual Mini Docs camp

Raquel Maurier - 30 April 2013

The Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry held its second annual Mini Docs camp as a thank you for children who volunteer as patients for U of A medical students.

The day-long camp was held in the Zeidler Ledcor building with 34 children rotating through a series of stations focusing on the cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal systems, vital signs and special senses. At each station, they learned about that body system, how to keep it healthy and how to treat the system if something was wrong. The final station was triage, where the new "mini doctors" pulled together everything they had learned and treated a mock patient. As they rotated through each station, the children were also given scrubs or masks, so that by the time they reached triage they looked like real doctors.

"The kids had the opportunity to interview a patient, find out what's happened, make a plan to help him or her, then determine a treatment for the patient," says Jo-Ann Paul, the educational resources co-ordinator with the Faculty's undergraduate medical education office.

Juliet, 11, said she thoroughly enjoyed volunteering, and the camp itself, and would recommend the experience to other kids.

"I really liked how there were so many stations, they taught me so much and answered any questions I had. They showed us lots of x-rays and I really liked the pen that looks like a needle. Dealing with the mock patient was fun because it really helped me remember everything I had learned and come up with a real plan to help a patient."

Her mom, Teresa, said she was thankful for the opportunity, which friends had highly recommended because it was both fun and a great learning opportunity for children.

Second-year medical student Fangwei Liu said the camp is a great way to thank the children and their families who take time out of their busy schedules to volunteer as patients to benefit physicians of tomorrow.

"Mini Docs gave us the opportunity to show the kids our appreciation of their time and patience," said Liu.

Phil Quon, one of the two medical students who co-ordinated Mini Docs, said putting together the Saturday camp was "a great experience. The volunteers were enthusiastic and positive, making the event a huge success. The children had a blast and they really impressed me with how much they knew! My favorite part was watching them utilize their newly learned skills while treating the fake patient in the triage station."

As a volunteer patient, each child came to the U of A with a parent for a two-hour visit. During that time, medical students would take a patient history and then do a physical exam with the child. The kids who volunteered ranged in age from 6 to 12 years old.

"The patient I had told us during the patient exam that she was volunteering so that she can help us be good doctors, but also because she wants to be a pediatrician herself," said second-year medical student Krista Lai.

The day-long camp is sponsored by the Alberta Medical Association and is promoted via the faculty, the AMA, a local home-schooling association and some pediatricians' offices in the city. The camp is administered by the FoMD undergraduate medical education office and delivered by first and second-year medical student volunteers.

Families interested in having their children take part in this volunteer program can email the faculty at: