Fewer medical students are choosing to specialize in geriatrics, while the elderly population is set to increase by almost double in the next two decades.
Across the US, less medical school graduates choose to pursue additional training in geriatrics with a drop in residents from internal or family medicine entering geriatric medicine fellowships. According to data from the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) Geriatrics Workforce Policy Studies Center, in 2010 there were only 75 residents that entered geriatric medicine fellowship program, that number significantly less than the 112 residents there were in 2005.
Geriatrics is said to be a less attractive option for medical students as the salary is less than those practicing other medical as well as surgical specialties. Geriatricians are also required to train at least one year more than other primary care physicians.
In the U.S, people are living longer and those aged 65 and older are expected to account for almost 20% of the country’s population by the year 2030, according to the AGS, meaning that approximately 30,000 geriatricians will be needed in the next two decades.
The elderly population in countries across the world is also on the rise. Across the 34 countries that are part of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD,) the number of those aged over 65 years has increased from less than 9% on the population in 1960 to 15% in 2010 and is expected to increase to 27% by the year 2050 according to the OECD ‘Health at a Glance 2013’ report.
Chronic conditions that affect the population aged 65 and over can include disorders such as heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension,) and arthritis, and those within this age group account for up to 35% of all hospital stays and 38% of all emergency medical responses.