Background and objectives: The dramatic increase in the elderly population expected over the next few decades will place a heavy strain on the current health care system. Family practice residents need to be prepared to take care of this geriatric population. In this study, we document the past, current, and future trends of geriatric education in family practice residency programs.
Methods: A survey was mailed to all family practice residency directors in the United States (n = 471).
Results: The response rate was 75%. Ninety-two percent of family practice residencies have a required geriatrics curriculum. Nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home care are the predominant training sites for geriatrics. Training is most often offered in a longitudinal format. The mean number of physician faculty available to teach geriatrics is 2.6 per program (.83 full-time equivalent). Conflicting time demands with other curricula was ranked as the most significant barrier to geriatric education. Directors rated geriatrics as one of the three most important curriculum topics.
Conclusions: Faculty development to enhance the number of faculty who can teach geriatrics and broadening the exposure of residents to the elderly in a variety of settings will be important to ensure that future generations of family physicians are adequately equipped to care for the geriatric population.