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December 2010 Issue

Jeffrey Schlaudecker, MD
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Geriatricians Receive Awards to Improve Elder Care

By Katie Pence
Published December 2010

The shortage of geriatric specialists is a trend that has been widely publicized in recent years.


But at the University of Cincinnati, two young geriatricians are doing what they can to not only improve the field for future geriatricians and patients alike but also improve the way they do their job in the Tristate.


Recently, Jeffrey Schlaudecker, MD, and Mandi Sehgal, MD, both UC Health geriatricians in the department of family and community medicine, were awarded Geriatric Academic Career Awards from the Health Resources and Services Administration.


They were two out of only about 70 others in the country to receive this award, given to support career development for academic geriatric specialists who emphasize training in clinical geriatrics.


The grants, created from federal stimulus money, will each total $374,955 over five years.

"I’m very honored,” says Schlaudecker. "We will use this money to develop ways to educate people on best practices in caring for older populations.”


In addition, the financial support will allow Schlaudecker and Sehgal to conduct clinical research surrounding the practices they put into place to improve geriatric care.


Sehgal has similar sentiments.


"Caring for older adults is such an important job, and even more important is making sure that training is in place to create the best health care workforce for this demographic—one that emphasizes a geriatric philosophy of care,” she says.


"The geriatric field is truly about caring for not only the whole person, but their family as well,” Schlaudecker continues. "It’s recognizing that the family is just as crucial to the care of the patient as the health care team.


"This grant will help everyone put on their geriatric thinking cap, if you will, and learn to work together to provide the best care for this population.”


Schlaudecker’s Award…


Will allow him to complete training for a master’s of education degree while focusing on developing and implementing curriculum for geriatric students that will center on the interprofessional care of hospitalized elders.


"We need to include all specialists in the care of the patients, from nurses to speech therapists to pharmacists,” he says. "We teach students to be their own island when it comes to care, but what we need to be teaching them is the value of the other members of the health care team and how interaction with them benefits patient care.”


As part of this plan, Schlaudecker will assemble a team to engage patients at Christ Hospital, where he sees patients, in bedside rounds and will focus on how interprofessional communication with patients and families impacts the doctor-patient relationship, improving patient care through their increased understanding of treatment and helping facilitate successful self-management among older hospital adults and their caregivers. He will also complete research evaluating the outcomes.


Sehgal’s Award…


Will allow her to complete more training toward becoming a master educator through classes at UC’s Center for Education Teaching and Learning and the master’s of education program offered collaboratively through UC and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. She will develop, implement and evaluate an interprofessional block rotation for primary care residents and develop a new interdisciplinary team care communication curriculum for chief residents at UC Health University Hospital.


Additionally, Sehgal will become a member of UC’s Institute for Health Care Improvement’s Open School Chapter to bring a focus of quality improvement to her geriatrics curricula.


"It’s important to expose students and residents to this interdisciplinary mindset as soon as possible,” she says. "It’s the first step in providing truly integrated, tailored care. When everyone is on the same page, care can be administered more quickly and with fewer problems.


"By developing these curricula we are giving our learners these experiences and teaching the right skills up front.”


Why did you choose geriatrics?


"During my family medicine residency training, there was only a one-month rotation that focused on geriatrics, although we cared for many older adult patients throughout our years of residency. I felt that I needed additional training to develop my ‘toolbox’ of skills to take care of this vulnerable population. I had amazing mentorship that pushed me in the direction of a geriatrics fellowship, a year-long program, that gave me the tools and knowledge to take care of older adults, and then I was hooked.” – Mandi Sehgal, MD


"I have always enjoyed being around older adults, and I decided to become a geriatrician during my residency in family medicine at UC. I was excited by the challenge of a field of medicine that is still in its relative infancy in understanding. Older adults are an amazingly heterogeneous group: Every 80-year-old is unique in functional status, life experience and in how medicines affect them. In my early interaction with Dr. Gregg Warshaw (UC Geriatrics Division Head), I saw how he was able to teach a diverse group of learners in multiple medical specialties how to improve care for their older patients, and I was hooked!” – Jeffrey Schlaudecker, MD

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