In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

July 23, 2015

‘Road Scholar’ Offers View of ‘Learning Vacation’ at Mayo Clinic

By In the Loop

The Road Scholar program bills itself as a national adult continuing education program that partners with local communities to provide educational travel experiences.As co-owner of a travel business in scenic Ventura County, California, for more than 20 years, David Loe knows travel. And we're guessing of travel, he's had his share (man). So it might seem surprising that he says the six days he recently spent at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus as part of Rochester Community and Technical College's Road Scholar program are ones he won't soon forget. In fact, in his travel column in the Ventura County Star, Loe called it "the most unique travel experience I’ve ever encountered."

While the Road Scholar program bills itself as a national "adult continuing education program" that partners with local communities to provide "educational travel experiences," Program Director Chrisanne Pieper tells us she prefers a more casual description. "I like to call Road Scholar a 'learning vacation,'" she says. And it's one that offers a "behind-the-scenes exploration" of Mayo Clinic, in which participants "see where medicine has been and where it is going."

And that, Loe writes, is what he found during his time at Mayo, as "some of the nation’s top doctors, professors and other health care professionals" gave him and other Road Scholars "an introduction" to some of the "advances in medicine" happening at Mayo. "And after what I heard," he writes, "I can assure you that medicine is in a dramatic state of change." Loe writes that "it's one thing to read about these coming advances in medicine," but he says "it is quite another" to meet some of the folks making them happen. "Their excitement is contagious," he says.

The Road Scholar program is more than just meet-and-greets. "The lectures were supplemented with field trips to places like Mayo’s Clinical Research and Trials Unit, and the hospital’s Center for Innovation," Loe writes. "There’s also a focus on the history of the Mayo brothers, and how they happened to develop one of the world’s most famous medical institutions in their small hometown in southern Minnesota."

And then there's the practical application. "I will now be a much better participant in my future medical decisions," Loe writes. "Being a partner with your doctor is good medicine." That's a sentiment that Pieper tells us other program participants have shared, as well. "The folks who attend these programs are curious, lifelong learners," she says. "And many return to Rochester for medical treatment afterward. In fact, we've had one woman who even moved to Rochester after attending a Road Scholar program." That's what we'd call success.

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As a regular subscriber of “In the Loop” I was pleased to have RCTC’s outstanding Road Scholar program featured. RCTC’s community outreach “umbrella” also covers another exceptional program, LIFE (Learning Is Forever). This program, also directed by Chrisanne Pieper, is recognized as one of Minnesota’s most vibrant and successful enrichment series of classes for curious life long learners. Among the more popular class topics are those that feature history, health/medicine and science, literature, community affairs and current events. Check us out!

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