Interest in geriatric medicine in Canada: how can we secure a next generation of geriatricians?

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2006 Mar;54(3):512-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2005.00610.x.


In Canada, there is minimal training of geriatrics for physicians, a shortage of geriatricians, and extremely low numbers of students entering geriatrics. This study explored student interest in and barriers and enticements to geriatric medicine as a career choice. Medical students attending a university in Ontario, Canada, were surveyed in their first year (N=121), after a geriatric education session, and again in their second year (N=118) about their interest in a career in geriatrics. In the first year, less than 20% of students were interested in geriatrics; in the second year this decreased to 16%. In both years, female students were more interested than male students. Those students interested in geriatrics had higher hopes that their practice would involve primarily adults and seniors. Students not interested in geriatrics rated performing procedures and technical skills, not wanting to work with chronically ill patients, and caring for younger patients as important practice characteristics. Although the importance of prestige was low for all students, it was significantly higher for those not interested in geriatrics. Although changes to prestige, income, lifestyle, and length of residency training were identified as potential enticements to geriatrics, they were not major deterrents to a career in geriatrics. The findings suggest strategies that may affect student interest in geriatrics, such as increased and early student exposure to geriatrics with emphasis on fostering and nurturing student interest, consideration of various enticements to this specialty, and the development of health system-specific solutions to this problem. Knowledge of student and practice characteristics that increase the likelihood of selecting geriatrics as a specialty may allow for early identification and support of future geriatricians.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Career Choice*
  • Education, Medical / trends*
  • Female
  • Geriatrics / education*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Ontario