The New York Times had an article on the need for health care professionals for an aging population. Specialized programs for geriatric medicine, dentistry and mental health is one way that health care professionals can gain more specific knowledge and training to recognize and provide comprehensive care for the growing number of people 65 years old and up.  Doctors do not flock to practice geriatrics because Medicare reimbursement is comparatively low. The average geriatric specialist made $183,523 in 2010 — less than half that year’s $392,885 median for dermatologists, according to the Physician Compensation and Production Survey.

The federal government underwrites some fellowships and is asking for $54 million, up $11 million from last year, in the next budget for such training, especially for Geriatric Education Centers at dozens of medical schools and major medical centers. Prestigious organizations like the Institute of Medicine have warned of a looming scarcity of medical professionals ill-equipped to deliver quality treatment.

The Hartford Foundation and the Atlantic Philanthropies have supported a wide-ranging effort, at more than 300 hospitals, to provide nurses with geriatric training, in a program called Niche (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders).

 

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