Cincinnati--The population of the United States is aging, placing
more demand on the medical community for quality care for the elderly.
By the year 2030, 20 percent of the US population will be older than 65
years, up from 12.4 percent of the population in 2000. According to a
study conducted by the University of Cincinnati and published in the
November 13 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), medical
schools are not training enough geriatric medicine professionals to
keep up with the growth in the elderly population.
MD, professor of Geriatric Medicine and Family Medicine at the
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, is the lead author of an
article on this subject, which appears in the November 13 issue of JAMA.
The article, "Academic Geriatric Programs in US Allopathic and
Osteopathic Medical Schools," reports on a survey conducted as part of
a two-year study by Dr. Warshaw and his colleagues from the UC
Institute for Health Policy and Health Services Research. This work was
supported by a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation in Las
Vegas, Nevada to the Association of Directors of Geriatric Academic
Programs in New York City.
"The principles of geriatric medicine
practice that have been developed over the past 50 years could be
applied to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of care for our
elderly citizens who are sick, as well as those who are aging and
maintaining their health," said Dr. Warshaw. "Unfortunately, when our
team of researchers compiled data from five national surveys on
geriatrics, we concluded that medical schools are encountering
obstacles to developing robust geriatric programs."
Co-authors of the JAMA
report are Elizabeth J. Bragg, PhD, RN; Ruth W. Shaull, MSN, RN; and
Christopher J. Lindsell, PhD, of the UC Institute for Health Policy and
Health Services Research. Their research predicts that at a time when
the number of elderly will be greatly increasing, the number of
certified geriatricians will decrease. For example, in 1998 there were
more than 9,000 certified geriatricians in the country; by the year
2004 that number is expected to fall to approximately 6,000.
geriatric programs across the country are organized in a variety of
ways, but there are some widely recognized recommendations for staffing
and programming standards. The Institute of Medicine recommends that
medical schools have nine full time faculty in geriatrics; but the UC
study found that 71percent of schools had fewer than nine faculty, and
52 percent of reporting schools had less than six faculty. Lack of
research faculty and post graduates students, as well as poor
reimbursement for clinical care were found to be significant obstacles
to developing geriatric programs by more than half of the schools