Geriatric education in the health professions: are we making progress?

Gerontologist. 2012 Oct;52(5):607-18. doi: 10.1093/geront/gns006. Epub 2012 Mar 6.


Purpose: Relative to the overall population, older adults consume a disproportionally large percentage of health care resources. Despite advocacy and efforts initiated more than 30 years ago, the number of providers with specialized training in geriatrics is still not commensurate with the growing population of older adults. This contribution provides a contemporary update on the status of geriatric education and explores how geriatric coverage is valued, how geriatric competence is defined, and how students are evaluated for geriatric competencies.

Design and methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with curriculum representatives from 7 health profession disciplines in a case study of one academic medical center.

Findings: Geriatric training varies across health professions' disciplines. Although participants recognized the unique needs of older patients and valued geriatric coverage, they identified shortage of time in packed curricula, lack of geriatrics-trained educators, absence of financial incentive, and low student demand (resulting from limited exposure to older adults and gerontological stereotyping) as barriers to improving geriatric training.

Implications: Progress in including geriatric training within curricula across the health professions continues to lag behind need as a result of the continuing presence of barriers identified several decades ago. There remains an urgent need for institutional commitment to enhance geriatric education as a component of health professions curricula.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Curriculum*
  • Faculty
  • Female
  • Geriatrics / education*
  • Geriatrics / trends
  • Health Occupations / education*
  • Health Occupations / trends
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Professional Competence
  • United States