how do we teach geriatric care

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

How do we teach geriatric care?

This recent Medscape article discusses the lack of standards for teaching geriatric care, and why that has to change.

Medical education is not preparing future physicians well enough to meet the health needs of patients aged 65 years and older, a population whose size will begin to explode in the coming decade, according to a new study.

It amazes me that this has not been taught in the past, and it seems amazingly short sighted that doctors today are not being prepared for the coming Baby Boom geriatric population.

This also reminds me of the time that I found out that there is no formal geriatric specialty in my state. I was working with a nursing home patient who’s doctor was a “geriatric specialist”. Said so on his card and in the phone book. He was a young, cocky, and extreamly arrogant. (Let me put it this way, I wasn’t surprised to find that he drove a bright red HUMMER. He just had that I’m the biggest young stud you’ve ever seen swagger about him.) I assumed his claim of being a “geriatric specialist” meant that he had followed some special track in his education. I was wrong. He had no more geriatric training than any other doctor in the state, but since he only cared for geriatric patients, he was a “specialist”. The reason I found this amazing was because this doctor was a geriatric specialist by default. His bedside manner was so bad that he couldn’t keep a patient base any other way. He had no office, and was the medical director for numerous nursing homes. Nurses hated him. Most patients hated him. Our staff hated him. He was not a good doctor and a worse human. This guy was a “geriatric specialist” because only people who didn’t have any other option would allow him to be their doctor. The whole situation made me mad and more than a little sad.

We keep hearing Washington talk about reforming Social Security because the baby boom population is going to bust the system. Someone needs to start talking seriously about how we are going to care for them all; teaching doctors how do deal with geriatric patients seems the least we could do to prepare for what is ahead.



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