KAKAAKO, Hawaii - You can go to school to learn how to age well! The University of Hawaii's John A. Burns School of Medicine holds a Mini-Medical School twice a year. The spring session starts in a week. 

This is what a med school class looks like- if you're in the healthy aging program. Virginia Hinshaw, Chancellor Emeritus of the John A. Burns School of Medicine, describes, "The Dr. Rosita Leong Mini Medical School is an opportunity for people to learn about issues they're going to have to deal with, particularly in the second half of their life." Dr. Hinshaw is also a JABSOM Professor of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology.

The classes are all at the John A. Burns School of Medicine. It's a free community event. The school invites you to sign up to become what it calls a 'mini-medical student.' 

Chancellor Emeritus Hinshaw sums up the program offerings: "We range from vaccines, being grateful, how to take care of your eyes. A lot of is focused on what they can do for themselves."

“We launched the Mini-Medical School because our state has the highest proportion of people over 65 in the nation and we also live longer,” says Dr. Hinshaw. “Our aim is to offer Hawai‘i’s citizens information on the best way to maintain health and well-being throughout life.” 

All the classes tie into one of these four key pillars of aging well: "Mentally engaged, socially connected, nutritionally balanced, and physically active," says Chancellor Emeritus Hinshaw.

Almost 180 students are enrolled in the spring semester which starts on February 9, with 160 more on the waitlist. The program started in 2014. More than 1,500 people from 18 to 94 years young have attended the ten classes, in total.

Judy Pyle enrolled in the inaugural course, and has returned every year since. "There isn't anything else like it for our age group. It's targeted to us and it's very positive," she enthuses.

The school emphasizes the upside of aging. For instance, "we become more compassionate, because you use both sides of your brains more as you age," points out Chancellor Emeritus Hinshaw.

Pyle agrees, "Usually what you're reading is what's going wrong when you're aging. This talks about what's going right."

Can't get there in person? JABSOM posts the lectures to its website at http://jabsom.hawaii.edu/minimedschool/lectures.html and airs them on Spectrum channels 342 and 1342. 

"We believe seniors can be active and vital throughout their lives," encourages Chancellor Emeritus Hinshaw.

The course runs for five weeks. They meet Saturday mornings from 9 to 11:30 am. The spring session is full, but keep an eye out for the fall classes. 

The program's theme says it all: Seniors Rock!

This is not a drop-in event; seats are limited and reserved by appointment. Sign up for the next Dr. Rosita Leong Mini-Medical School on Healthy Aging by emailing mmsaging@hawaii.edu or calling 808-692-1215.