The American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry's Trainee Programs: Participant Characteristics and Perceived Benefits

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2020 Nov;28(11):1156-1163. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2020.03.002. Epub 2020 Mar 7.


Objective: The number of physicians trained in geriatric psychiatry is dwindling. The American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry (AAGP) developed novel educational programs designed to foster interest in the field. The objective of this study was to compare participant characteristics and perceived benefits of two AAGP educational programs for trainees: Stepping Stones (1997-2007) and the Scholars Program (2010-2016).

Methods: Web-based surveys were distributed to former participants of the Stepping Stones and Scholars Programs. Characteristics of participants in the two programs were compared using χ2, t tests, or Mann-Whitney U tests, as appropriate. The five-point Likert scale responses for each perceived benefit were compared using t tests, when normally distributed, or Mann-Whitney U tests as appropriate.

Results: Of the 476 Stepping Stones participants, 132 (27.8%) responded to the survey, while 64 (29.0%) of the 221 Scholars Program participants responded to the survey. Participant characteristics differed only in age. Compared to Stepping Stones participants, Scholars Program participants endorsed greater advancement of their scholarly work, more support and recognition from their home institution, and increased networking opportunities.

Conclusion: Innovative approaches to addressing the geriatric psychiatry workforce shortage are critical. The member-funded AAGP Scholars Program offers several advantages over its predecessor Stepping Stones. Highlighted by the addition of medical student participants, a carefully matched mentoring program, and a required scholarly project, the Scholars Program is poised to enhance recruitment into geriatric psychiatry subspecialty training, although its impact on recruitment should be investigated directly in future research.

Keywords: Geriatric psychiatry; education; recruitment; training.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Geriatric Psychiatry / education*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mentors
  • Personnel Selection*
  • Students, Medical
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Workforce*