How to Become a Geriatrician

How to Become a Geriatrician

Geriatrics is a medical discipline that concentrates on providing health care to the elderly. Geriatricians are specially trained medical doctors that focus on promoting health and the prevention and treatment of a variety of conditions and diseases in older adults.

What does a geriatrician do?

Geriatricians focus on the quality of life and ability of functions and treat a variety of medical conditions and chronic illnesses. They typically deal with conditions and diseases that come with old age including arthritis, osteoporosis, vision and hearing problems, chronic heart and lung disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, memory loss, dementia, incontinence, and stroke. Geriatricians also make decisions on when it is medically unsafe for older persons to live by themselves. They provide counseling to patients and their families on alternative living situations and end of life care.

What kind of training does a geriatrician need?

Geriatricians must complete undergraduate education and earn their medical degree. They must also complete residency and fellowship training. Medical school provides intensive classroom and laboratory instruction and clinical rotations. After medical school, prospective geriatricians complete residency programs in internal medicine or family medicine. They must become board certified in internal medicine or family practice before pursuing their fellowship training in geriatrics. The fellowship training provides physicians with instruction on the aging process, assessment of the elderly, common elderly illnesses, and common treatment options. They also receive clinical training on caring for older patients. After they complete their fellowship program, geriatricians typically receive a Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ). To earn this designation, they must have at least 2 to 4 years working in geriatric settings. All states require geriatricians to be licensed. Licensing requirements include graduation from an accredited medical school, completion of residency and fellowship programs, and passing a licensing examination.

What are the prospects for a career as a geriatrician?

Employment of all physicians is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 14% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The aging population with drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be good especially for geriatricians with extensive experience and specialty training. Many job openings will stem from the need to replace geriatricians that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do geriatricians make?

As of November 2009, the middle 50% of geriatricians earn annual salaries between $145,890 and $194,039. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $219,708(2).

A career as a geriatrician is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in providing medical care to elderly patients. Geriatricians must have a solid understanding of the aging process and how to care for older individuals. Patience, compassion, sensitivity, self-motivation, and good bedside manner are desirable traits. Geriatricians must have a good attitude for caring for the elderly and excellent communication and interpersonal skills. They must also possess good leadership skills and be able to work as part of a team.

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