HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Upcoming Silver Tsunami and Medical School Training

Reuters reports on medical schools responding to an increasing aging population by adding more courses in geriatric care.  The article reports,

Just a few years ago, a graduate from Brown University medical school had just an inkling about how to care for the elderly.  Now, Brown and other U.S. medical schools are plugging geriatric courses into their curricula and adding specially trained faculty members as they respond to an imminent boom in the number of older Americans and the need to better understand how to properly care for the elderly.

The U.S. Census Bureau projects the number of elderly Americans will nearly double to 71 million by 2030, leaving one physician trained in geriatric care for every 7,665 seniors. 
The first members of the Baby Boomer generation, so named for the explosion in births in the years after World War Two, turn 65 in three years. In addition, people are living longer than ever.

"The first ripples of the silver tsunami are lapping at the shores of our country, but there is not a coordinated or strategic response taking place in America," said Richard Besdine, who is director of the geriatrics division at Brown University medical school in Providence, Rhode Island, and past president of the American Geriatrics Society.

Geriatrics has never been a field of choice for young doctors. Elderly care doctors are paid less than most other physicians and surgeons and the aged can be hard to treat. . . .

I haven't heard much attention paid to the aging of our population beyond the social security/medicare issues on payment and costs.  Obviously other concerns will need to be addressed and it is interesting to see how medical schools are responding and encouraging graduates to consider a different specialty.

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