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Commentary: Aging America: Meeting the Needs of Older Americans and the Crisis in Geriatrics

Eleazer, G Paul MD; Brummel-Smith, Kenneth MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31819f8da9
Commentary

The aging of the United States population will offer unprecedented challenges and opportunities for the health care system at large, and particularly medical education. In this issue of Academic Medicine, three articles provide opportunities for medical educators and others to ponder anew how we can address this so-called “age wave” as the baby boomers become senior boomers. Leipzig and colleagues describe their process for identifying 26 recommended geriatrics competencies for medical students, Reuben and colleagues examine the results of the first cohort of Reynolds Foundation geriatrics education grants, and Bernard and colleagues discuss the benefits of committing to developing departments of geriatrics at academic health centers. In addition, the recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce, highlights many of these issues. In this commentary, the authors discuss implications of selected articles from this issue and the IOM report, in hopes of provoking discussion and consideration of solutions to address the challenges faced by medical educators and by those who make public policy.

Dr. Eleazer is professor of internal medicine and director, Division of Geriatrics, Department of Internal Medicine, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Columbia, South Carolina, and president, Association of Directors of Geriatric Academic Programs, New York, New York.

Dr. Brummel-Smith is Charlotte Edwards Maguire Professor and chair, Department of Geriatrics, Florida State University College of Medicine, Tallahassee, Florida, and chair, Board of the Association of Directors of Geriatric Academic Programs, New York, New York.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Eleazer, Division of Geriatrics, Department of Internal Medicine, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, 15 Medical Park, Suite 211, Columbia, SC 29203; telephone: (803) 434-4333; fax: (803) 434-4334; e-mail: (pauleleazermd@gmail.com).

Editor’s Note: This is a commentary on Leipzig RM, Granville L, Simpson D, Brownell Anderson M, Sauvigné K, Soriano RP. Keeping granny safe on July 1: A consensus on minimum geriatric competencies for graduating medical students. Acad Med. 2009;84:604–610; Reuben DB, Bachrach PS, McCreath H, et al. Changing the course of geriatrics education: An evaluation of the first cohort of Reynolds geriatrics education programs. Acad Med. 2009;84:619–626; and Bernard MA, Blanchette PL, Brummel-Smith K. Strength and influence of geriatrics departments in academic health centers. Acad Med. 2009;84:627–632.

© 2009 Association of American Medical Colleges