Who's Who: Geriatrician

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on September 07, 2018
2 min read

Just as young patients see pediatricians for specialized care, older adults can benefit from working with a geriatrician, an internist who specializes in the care of older patients.

More than half of older adults manage three or more chronic conditions, which often means filling several prescriptions and juggling appointments with multiple specialists.

Geriatricians are medical doctors trained and board-certified to address both the normal and abnormal changes of aging and to recognize the difference in the way a disease may develop in an elderly patient. In addition to their backgrounds in internal medicine, geriatricians work with teams of health care professionals to manage patient care and ensure age-related health issues are addressed.

You'll find geriatricians in long-term and acute care facilities as well as hospitals, medical centers, and private practice.

All geriatricians treat older adults, but some focus on specific parts of geriatric medicine, including nursing, pharmacy, surgery, psychiatry, social work, and occupational therapy. Geriatricians from different disciplines often work together to provide thorough patient care and to ensure that an older patient can stay independent.

By 2030, one in five Americans will be older than 65. Too few geriatricians are practicing in the U.S. to meet the needs of an aging population, leaving older adults without specialized care.

Despite their specialized training, geriatricians rank among the lowest-paid medical specialists. Some states now offer loan forgiveness and other incentives to encourage doctors to pursue careers in geriatrics in the hopes of meeting the demand for age-appropriate care.

7,300: Number of geriatricians practicing in the U.S.

3.6: Number of geriatricians per every 10,000 older adults

700: Average number of patients a geriatrician sees

30,000: Estimated number of geriatricians needed by 2030 to meet the care demands of an aging population

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