More geriatricians needed as population ages: 5 things to know

Geriatrics is among a small number of medical specialties decreasing in size even as the need increases, according to a report from The New York Times.

Here are five things to know about the trend.

1. The U.S. currently has approximately 7,000 practicing geriatricians. In Oregon specifically, there is approximately one geriatrician for every 3,000 people over age 75, according to the report.

2. This shortage is expected to become more acute in the future, as roughly 31 million Americans will be older than 75 by 2030, according to projections based on U.S. census data used by The New York Times.

3. To meet the demand, the American Geriatrics Society estimates 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, according to the report.

4. But as it stands now, geriatrics is at the bottom of the list of specialties internal medicine residents choose to pursue, according to the report.

5. Various reasons contribute to a person's decision not to pursue geriatrics. For instance, geriatrics is among the lowest-paying specialties in medicine, according to the report, which cites data from the Medical Group Management Association. Also, it can be challenging to sustain a geriatrics practice, as the healthcare of older patients is covered mostly by Medicare, which has low reimbursement rates, many in the field said, according to the report.

 

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