Competency-based education prepares trainees to perform tasks occurring within the context of practice. There are currently no geriatrics-specific, competency-based consensus performance standards for medical students.
The authors present the results of a systematic, multimethod process to identify and define the minimum geriatrics-specific competencies needed by a new intern to adequately care for older adults. An alpha draft was crafted by geriatricians, identifying measurable performance subtasks associated with accepted standards of evidence-based geriatric care, patient safety, and “do no harm” within the first-year resident's expected scope of practice. The competencies were then assessed for content validity by key stakeholders and informants. Of the 315 respondents, 26% were geriatricians, 21% family physicians, 24% general internists, 6% neurology program directors, 14% surgery program directors, and 9% other. Twenty-four were decanal appointees. Faculty from almost half (44%) of U.S. medical schools and representatives of several major medical education organizations were present at the working conference.
The final document consists of 26 competencies nested within eight content domains: Medication Management; Self-Care Capacity; Falls, Balance and Gait Disorders; Hospital Care for Elders; Cognitive and Behavioral Disorders; Atypical Presentation of Disease; Health Care Planning and Promotion; and Palliative Care.
Setting minimum geriatric competency standards establishes the performance benchmarks for medical school graduates who as first-year residents will care for geriatric patients. Only half-facetiously, they are referred to as the “Don't Kill Granny” competencies. Achievement of these minimum competencies by medical students, grounded in evidence-based principles of quality care for older adults, will assure that, each year, older patients are in safer hands on July 1.