White Paper-Geriatric Emergency Medicine Education: Current State, Challenges, and Recommendations to Enhance the Emergency Care of Older Adults

AEM Educ Train. 2018 Nov 12;2(Suppl Suppl 1):S5-S16. doi: 10.1002/aet2.10205. eCollection 2018 Dec.


Older adults account for 25% of all emergency department (ED) patient encounters. One in five Americans will be 65 or older by 2030. In response to this need, geriatric emergency medicine (GEM) has developed into a robust area of academic and clinical interest, with extensive evidence-based research and guidelines, including clear undergraduate and postgraduate GEM competencies. Despite these developments, GEM content remains underrepresented in curricula and licensing examinations. The complex reasons for these deficits include a perception that care of older adults is not a core emergency medicine (EM) competency, a disjunction between traditional definitions of expertise and the GEM perspective, and lack of curricular capacity. This White Paper, prepared on behalf of the Academy of Geriatric Emergency Medicine, describes the state of GEM education, identifies the challenges it faces, and reviews innovations, including research presented at the 2018 Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) Annual Scientific Meeting. The authors propose a number of recommendations. These include recognizing GEM as a core educational priority in EM, enhancing academic support for GEM clinician-educators, using social learning and practical problem solving to teach GEM concepts, emphasizing a whole-person multisystem approach to care of older adults, and identifying ageist attitudes as a hurdle to safe and effective GEM care.