The Looming Geriatrician Shortage: Ramifications and Solutions

J Aging Health. 2020 Oct;32(9):1052-1062. doi: 10.1177/0898264319879325. Epub 2019 Oct 4.


Objective: Geriatricians are skilled in the recognition of asymptomatic and atypical presentations that occur in the elderly and provide comprehensive medication management including recognizing adverse drug events, reducing polypharmacy, and de-prescribing. However, despite the increasing average age of the U.S. population, with the number of individuals above 65 years old predicted to increase 55% by 2030, the geriatric workforce capacity in the United States has actually decreased from 10,270 in 2000 to 8,502 in 2010. Method: We describe physiologic changes in older adults, historical trends in geriatric training, and propose solutions for this looming crisis. Results: Many factors are responsible for the shortage of skilled geriatric providers. Discussion: We discuss the historical context of the lack of geriatricians including changes to the training system, describe the impact of expert geriatric care on patient care and health system outcomes, and propose methods to improve recruitment and retention for geriatric medicine.

Keywords: geriatrics; health services; policy.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Geriatricians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Geriatrics / education*
  • Health Services
  • Humans
  • Male
  • United States