GeriatricianGeriatricians are licensed doctors who diagnose and treat medical problems in elderly patients. They typically begin as general practitioners before obtaining additional education to specialize in geriatrician. Before becoming certified as geriatricians, they're required to complete additional board certification.
Geriatricians diagnose aging related problems, including Parkinson's disease, heart disease, lung and hearing problems, incontinence, osteoporosis, and arthritis. When they detect serious problems, including cancer or neurological disorders, they contact other specialists to assist their patients.
Geriatricians work in teams with mental health specialists, occupational and physical therapists, pharmacists, and geriatric nurses.
Since elderly patients often take multiple pills daily, geriatricians must monitor them to watch for potential side effects and answer questions. Geriatricians are also responsible for considering risks when recommending surgeries or other medical procedures. A 20 year old patient being operated on does not assume the same risks as an 80 year old.
Geriatricians also assess patients to determine whether they're capable of driving or living independently. They frequently refer patients to hospice and assisted living facilities.
Demand is currently high for skilled geriatricians. If current trends continue, there will only be a single geriatrician for every 20,000 elderly Americans by 2030.
Geriatricians are employed at hospitals, assisted living facilities, physicians' clinics, and private practices. Geriatricians must handle similar pressures as other doctors, including demanding families, difficult patients, and limited resources. This career is also emotionally draining since patients frequently become terminally ill and die.
However, geriatric medicine continues to advance steadily, with new research, improved treatment plans, and new medical procedures and technology. Laparoscopic surgery is one example of a new medical procedure that is greatly enhancing the quality of life for the elderly.
Career Training and Education
Geriatricians are licensed medical doctors. It takes 4 years to complete medical school, followed by a 3 year residency. Geriatricians usually practice for a few years in other fields before applying for a geriatrician fellowship program.
When completing geriatric training, aspiring geriatricians receive in-depth training about age related diseases and other medical conditions. They're also taught how to assess functional decline. Additionally, they treat elderly patients and learn how to assist patients struggling with social, mental health, and substance abuse problems.
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