Little Medical School is a startup brand that aims to teach children about health and wellness and inspire future medical practitioners
Role playing games is a term used to describe creative play that is essential to children’s cognitive growth and mental development. To foster this kind of play, many companies have released an array of costumes and accessories to kick-start imaginations. From Great Pretenders, to Rubies, to Props in a Box and Melissa and Doug, role-play outfits for children have become all the rage. Recently, a medical professional named Mary Mason decided to add some realism to creative play via her line of costumes and accessories via her “Little Medical School” company and play kits.
Little Medical School is a startup role-play company for kids that aims to teach them about medicine and how the body heals via providing fun role play gear and activities. The brand is STEM based but uses strong imaginative components to interest naturally curious children. To date, the brand is offering My Little Pediatrician Kit that comes with a doll, My Little Veterinarian Kit that comes with a stuffed dog, and My Little Sports Medicine Kit. There are also organ and skeleton stickers available and a white coat. For its innovative nature, the brand was presented with the Tillywig Toy Awards “Brain Child Seal of Approval” and “Parent’s Choice Award” after the judges were impressed by the way the toys increased knowledge of the body and promoted teamwork, social development, and problem-solving cooperation skills.
Little Medical School was designed to interest children in careers involving healthcare. Founder Mary Mason is a medical doctor who gives a percentage of the company’s proceeds of to the Dr. Genie’s Kids Foundation that provides scholarships to children for programs that spark their interest in the healthcare field. She recently discussed her experiences working as a doctor and an entrepreneur as well as her hopes for the future via a recent exclusive interview.
Entertainment Vine (EV): What gave you the idea to create “Little Medical School” and how did you decide on the specific themes for each set?
Mary Mason (MM): I came up with the concept for Little Medical School back in 1999. I was working on my MBA at Washington University before I started Chief Resident year for Internal Medicine and I wanted to create a mini-medical school program that connected medical students and residents with the community and kids. My mother was a pediatrician and she was always coming up with activities to make me and my sister interested in medicine. Many of those activities were inspirations for our classes.
I started with the medical school theme, but then added nursing and pharmacy. Today we have a full suite of programming for afterschool, summer camps, birthday parties and special events. Little Veterinarian School, Sports Medicine, Wilderness Medicine, and Pediatrician School. We also have a special program for pre-readers ages four to six and a “Medical School 4 Teens.”
EV: How does each set differ and what did you think about when compiling the accessories for each one?
MM: I realized early on that giving children a white coat and real tools that healthcare professionals use and using role-playing techniques changed the dynamics of our program. The kids were engaged, having fun and learning! With each program, we try to introduce new careers in healthcare. So, for example, in sports medicine, kids learn about orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, occupational therapists and surgical assistants. We always do a white coat ceremony and a graduation ceremony complete with a diploma and the Little Medical School Oath. There are so many career opportunities in healthcare and we want our students to be inspired to consider these are future careers.
EV: In total, how long did it take to bring this entire series to fruition and do you plan to add any sets in the future?
MM: This has been a work in progress for over seventeen years! In the last few years, we have spent a great deal of time and effort to refine the curriculum and the supplies used for our courses. Future programs include Little Dental School, Travel Medicine and programming for children with special needs and chronic health conditions.
EV: You are a doctor and hold several degrees so which kind of medicine are you most interested in?
MM: I am an internist with a business background. I still see adult patients once a week as a volunteer physician. I do love to teach and I am an adjunct lecturer at the Wash U School of Business where I teach Health Policy. I especially like teaching Little Medical School classes as I like to see how our students respond to our programming.
EV: You are involved in many charities so which issues do you find the most important at the present time?
MM: I am very passionate about Girl Scouts. I love their focus on STEM and Health. I also like donating and teaching programs in underserved communities through our Foundation Arm, Dr. Genie’s Kids.
EV: You’re going to climb a mountain soon! Can you tell us a bit more about that and your other adventures?
MM: Being a mother of three, ages seventeen, thirteen and six, is an adventure. My husband John and I love to encourage the kids to be active and participate in all sorts of new activities. Personally, I like to do a triathlon or two each year and I love indoor spinning.
EV: What is on the horizon for you and Little Medical School in the near future?
MM: Toys! We are launching our new retail kits this June we also are offering our award-winning “My Brain Hat-ter Helmet” which teaches the lobes of the brain and brain function while protecting kids’ brains when they are riding their bikes or scooters. A percentage of sales of our programs and retail is put into our Foundation Arm so we can provide our programing to all kids!