“Some are aged before they are old.
Some are old, but they are not aged.”

— Ignatz Nascher, M.D., 1914


Michael K. McCloud, M.D.

You might be surprised to learn that geriatrics, the science of aging and health, is arguably the only American-born medical specialty. Dr. Ignatz Leo Nascher was a New York City physician who proposed coinage of the word “geriatrics”, noting that like “pediatrics”, it emphasizes the need for a special body of knowledge to care for individuals in whom age confers special vulnerability.

Dr. Nascher’s brilliant 1914 textbook “Geriatrics: the Diseases of Old Age and Their Treatment” remains in publication today. Still relevant, his book challenges the dismissal of ill health in later life to the time honored diagnosis of “old age”.

While Nascher’s life work was dedicated to educating physicians to better care for mature adults, he practiced in a time when average life expectancy was little more than fifty years. Could he have dreamed of an America in which someone turns 65 every six seconds?

Could Dr. Nascher have imagined that physicians and nurses trained in meeting the needs of that burgeoning older population would be in critical shortage?

Enter “Aging and Medical Science: A Mini Medical School to Prepare for Life’s Second Half.”

Since 2002, the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine has opened its doors to the community. Over six Saturday mornings and twelve hours of lively classwork, top faculty members of the schools of medicine and nursing provide interactive medical school classes condensed to the core information we need to know about our aging body and how to avoid the pitfalls of aging. Students can be seniors, seniors-in-waiting, and middle agers with aging parents.

Michael & teamDr. Nascher might have called it “do it yourself geriatrics.”

With over 6000 graduates ranging in age from 23 to 97, “Aging and Medical Science” has struck a chord. Garnering international attention as one solution for a healthy aging population, the UC Davis Mini Medical School has been replicated as far away as the University of Hawaii and the nation of Singapore.

Classes for the February/March, 2015, Saturday morning series will be held on the main campus of the University of California, Davis (Davis is twenty minutes west of Sacramento, and an hour east of San Francisco). Class size is 520. There will be no tuition beyond our request to “pay it forward” through becoming “aging champions” and ambassadors for expansion and replication of this innovative program.

Please do not enroll if you will not be able to attend all six Saturday mornings and graduation after final class. This is not a community health fair. This is medical school. Be prepared for some serious study to earn your diploma. Add some serious fun.

I am always asked whether there is a final exam for Mini Medical School. The answer is “Yes.” However, you may not learn whether you pass for twenty or thirty years.



Michael K. McCloud, M.D., FACP
Clinical Professor of Medicine/ Geriatrics
Creator and Course Director of “Aging and Medical Science” Mini Med School.

University of California, Davis, Health System