Becoming a Sage: Bill Thomas

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Welcome to the Becoming a Sage podcast, hosted by Dr. Jann. Episode 14 features Dr. Jann’s conversation with Bill Thomas.


Dr. Bill Thomas has built a reputation as one the most eclectic and creative thinkers working in the field of medicine. Author, entrepreneur, musician, teacher, farmer and physician, Dr. Thomas’ wide-ranging work explores the terrain of human aging. 

Named by The Wall Street Journal as one of the top ten Americans shaping aging, Dr. Thomas is internationally known for his health care system innovations. He is the founder of a global non-profit (The Eden Alternative) and creator of The Green House Project, radical new approaches to reform long term care. Dr. Thomas also developed the Senior ER model of care and is now prototyping a tiny-house model designed to maximize independence and wellbeing.

Since 2014, Thomas has lead an ambitious new approach to growth and aging through his annual “non-fiction” theatrical ChangingAging Tour. “People hear that a doctor is coming to town to talk about aging and they expect me to show up wearing a white coat with PowerPoint slides. I show up with a guitar, a bass player, a theater set, costumes, music, art, mythology, storytelling, biography, and neuroscience all mixed up. It’s kind of like a TED Talk on steroids.”

Dr. Thomas’ career has included two decades living off the grid and running a mixed power farming operation (Summer Hill), founding one of the first technology companies to offer clinicians immediate access to outcome data (Rumpelstitlskin), teaching medical students and serving as a founding faculty member of UMBC’s Erickson School of Aging. 

His synthesis of imagination and action led US News and World Report to name him as one of “America’s best leaders.” The magazine noted his “startling common-sense ideas and his ability to persuade others to take a risk,” and concluded that “this creative and wildly exuberant country doctor has become something of a culture changer–reimagining how Americans will approach aging in the 21st century.”

Dr. Thomas’ books include Principia Senescentis, Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper and More Connected Life, Tribes of Eden, What Are Old People For? How Elders Will Save the World. He blogs regularly at and lives in Ithaca, New York.

To download this episode, click here.