Geriatrics group urges more focus on physician care for seniors

With 78 million baby boomers headed for retirement, the need for specialists in geriatric medicine will be great. Unfortunately, geriatricians still are a rare species, and unless something changes, they're likely to stay that way.

Hoping to turn this trend around, members of the American Geriatrics Society are beginning to lobby medical schools to turn out more geriatric graduates. Leaders of the AGS say that even well-trained physicians from other specialties may not be as aware of the impact aging has, such as changing the way medications are metabolized.

Just 7,128 doctors nationwide are certified geriatricians, meaning there's only one per 2,556 seniors, according to the Institute of Medicine. And as things stand, that supply is unlikely to increase on its own, as geriatrics doesn't pay as well as other specialties. Moreover, it doesn't have a prestigious reputation within the medical community.

The group would like to see elder care added to a list of six core areas that are standard foci for medical school training. If it succeeds, medical schools would add a geriatrics rotation to the training students already receive in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, surgery and obstetrics/gynecology.

Get up to date on the AGS's efforts:
- read this piece from The Boston Globe

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