Tags: doctor | shortage | older | americans

Aging Americans Facing Shortage of Specialized Doctors

Aging Americans Facing Shortage of Specialized Doctors
(Copyright DPC)

Tuesday, 26 January 2016 03:45 PM

About 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day — a trend projected to continue for a decade. But the number of geriatricians — doctors who treat seniors — are in short supply, and the deficit is expected to grow because few med students are choosing to specialize in this field of medicine.

That’s the latest from a new analysis that shows geriatrics is one of the few medical specialties in the United States that is contracting even as the need increases, ranking at the bottom of the list of specialties that internal medicine residents choose to pursue, The New York Times reports.

“One of the greatest stories of the 20th century was that we doubled the life expectancy of adults,” said Terry Fulmer, president of the John A. Hartford Foundation, which funds programs to improve the care of older adults. “Now we need to make sure we have all the supports in place to assure not just a long life but a high quality of that long life.”

According to Census Bureau projections, roughly 31 million Americans will be older than 75 — the largest such population in American history — by the year 2030. The American Geriatrics Society estimates that to meet the demand, medical schools would have to train at least 6,250 additional geriatricians between now and 2030, or about 450 more a year than the current rate.

Yet, the field is becoming even less popular among physicians in training. And then nation is already facing a shortage of geriatricians, with only about 7,000 in practice today in the United States.

One factor in the deficit: The healthcare of older patients is covered mostly by Medicare, and the federal insurance program’s low reimbursement rates make sustaining a geriatric practice difficult, many in the field say.

“Medicare disadvantages geriatricians at every turn, paying whatever is asked for medications and procedures, but a pittance for tough care-planning,” said Dr. Joanne Lynn, a geriatrician and the director of the Center for Elder Care and Advanced Illness at Altarum Institute, a nonprofit health systems research organization based in Ann Arbor, Mich.

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Anti-Aging
The number of geriatricians - doctors who treat seniors - are in short supply, and the deficit is expected to grow because few med students are choosing to specialize in this field of medicine.
doctor, shortage, older, americans
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2016-45-26
Tuesday, 26 January 2016 03:45 PM
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