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.
In the 2021-2022 academic year, there were 114 Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)-accredited training programs in geriatric medicine (internal medicine) with 303 trainees.
Major Professional Societies
- American Geriatrics Society
- The Gerontological Society of America
See all the career pathways open to internal medicine doctors.
Back to the February 2022 issue of ACP IMpact