A senior Vietnamese grandmother with her granddaughter making a heart shape with their hands

4th Vietnamese Mini Medical School focused on mental health, heart disease

The event offered tips on healthy aging to Sacramento’s Vietnamese immigrants and refugees


Last week, UC Davis Health hosted its fourth Vietnamese Mini Medical School (VMMS), a free health education conference in the Vietnamese language. Two experts shared ways to care for the heart health and mental wellbeing of the aging Vietnamese community in Sacramento.

Dr. Meyer is wearing a red dress and eyeglasses. She is standing next to Dr. Nguyen who is presenting to an audience.
The Vietnamese Mini Medical School was attended by more than 120 Vietnamese community members.

Oanh Meyer, associate professor of neurology at UC Davis School of Medicine, organizes this annual event. In 2016, she partnered with the Sacramento non-profit Asian Resources, Inc. (ARI) to help engage with the local Vietnamese community.

Meyer is on a mission to boost health literacy among the region’s Vietnamese immigrants and refugees.

“VMMS is designed to bridge the gap between medical providers and the Vietnamese community,” Meyer said. “It serves as a forum to share key health facts with the community in Sacramento in a fun, culturally and linguistically appropriate way.”

Meyer, who is Vietnamese American, is actively involved in community outreach. She is a social psychologist who studies healthy aging and dementia in ethnic minorities, especially Vietnamese people. Meyer is currently working on a study funded by the National Institute of Aging. The Vietnamese Insights into Aging Program (VIP) studies over 500 older Vietnamese Americans and their risks for dementia.

A group of people from the VMMS event. Dr. Oanh Meyer is in a red dress, standing in the middle of 12 individuals in the back. Five people are kneeling in the front.
The VMMS team in 2024

Taking care of your heart and mental health

The half-day event provided more than 120 attendees, mostly seniors, with an immersive and engaging educational experience.

“Several years ago, we started by conducting short brain health presentations to about 20 to 30 people at ARI. Now, the VMMS brings in about 100 people annually,” Meyer said.

The year, VMMS focused on heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Cardiologist Tin Nguyen described the conditions that affect the heart and outlined steps to live a heart-healthy life.

The event also included a session by neuropsychologist Lauren Mai. Mai is a training director at UCSF and cofounder of the Asian Neuropsychological Association. She presented on mental health in the Vietnamese aging community and the links between mental health, culture and healthy aging.

Oanh Meyer
It is critical for our community to be able to recognize illnesses and know how to access treatment.”Oanh Meyer, associate professor of neurology

“We are very grateful for Dr. Nguyen and Dr. Mai for sharing their expertise. They presented ways to create a healthy lifestyle for both the body and the brain. It is critical for our community to be able to recognize illnesses and know how to access treatment,” Meyer said. “We hope to bring more events like the VMMS to other communities that aren’t typically engaged in health education and research.”

The attendees shared their feedback with the organizing team.

“The program was very wonderful and helpful for older adults,” one wrote. “We hope for more beneficial programs like this to help us live healthily.”

Another wrote: “The program was very thorough and great — from the doctors to the staff, everyone was excellent and enthusiastic.”

The conference was sponsored by:

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