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Some of this fall’s Mini-Medical School participants (Photo credit: TC Chun)

Medical students aren’t the only ones having to adapt to changes in learning due to the current COVID-19 situation at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM). This fall, approximately 150 seniors have gone online to be a part of the Dr. Rosita Leong Mini-Medical School on Healthy Aging.

The brainchild of Virginia Hinshaw, its recently retired director and UH Mānoa chancellor emerita, the Mini-Medical School started at JABSOM in 2014 in partnership with the UH Foundation. The school was designed to prepare participants for the second halves of their lives by delivering relevant scientific information on aging, similar to what medical students learn but tailored for a public audience. Originally held annually each spring, a repeat session is also held in the fall due to overwhelming demand.

As life spans increase, so does the interest in “healthy aging,” especially in Hawaiʻi, where life expectancy is the longest in the country. By the end of the decade, Hawaiʻi will lead the nation in percentage of seniors in the population, with one-third of its residents aged 65 years or older.

The Mini-Medical School is led by Kamal Masaki, professor and chair of the Department of Geriatric Medicine, with assistance from Chang Kim, the program’s director of operations. Masaki took over the program amid the ever-evolving pandemic, and with an eye toward safety for her students, faculty and staff, she has transitioned the normally in-person five-week course online via Zoom. Several practice sessions were held for the students prior to the start of the program, giving them an opportunity to learn how to use Zoom.

The current session has proven that JABSOM’s medical students aren’t the only ones in their families with a thirst for learning, as several of them picked up the course binder and materials for their parents and grandparents who are enrolled in the Mini-Medical School.

—By TC Chun

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Chang Kim helps with the binder pick up.
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