Geriatric Medicine

The Discipline: What Is Geriatrics and What Does a Geriatrician Do?

Geriatric medicine is a type of practice within internal medicine that focuses on the care of older patients. Those who practice geriatric medicine (“geriatricians”) are specifically trained in the normal and abnormal physiologic and psychosocial changes associated with aging, and to recognize the differences in presentation of disease relative to normal aging. Geriatricians also recognize the importance of maintaining functional independence in older patients and focus on providing preventive interventions.

Most geriatricians are primary care physicians who desire additional training and skills focused on an older patient population. The clinical settings in which geriatric medicine is practiced are quite varied. Many geriatricians continue in primary care practice, and geriatrics training uniquely equips clinicians for work in rehabilitation, extended care, and home health settings. Geriatricians may also provide consultative services to other physicians or health care institutions.


Geriatric fellowship training requires one year of training beyond general internal medicine residency, which prepares them for board certification in geriatrics.

Training Positions

In the 2020-2021 academic year, there are 110 Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)-accredited training programs in geriatric medicine (internal medicine) with 270 trainees. There are also 49 training programs in geriatric medicine (family medicine) with 45 trainees. Finally, there are 62 training programs in geriatric psychiatry with 47 trainees.

Major Professional Societies

  • American Geriatrics Society
  • The Gerontological Society of America

Back to the August 2020 issue of ACP IMpact