Focus on Specialties – Geriatric Medicine
5 Sep 2020 | Anne Marie Fogarty
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Gerontology is the largest medical specialty and requires a vast knowledge of various diseases and treatments as older people can be affected by several conditions and illnesses.
Geriatric medicine is the branch of medicine involved with the care of older adults. Many diverse medical conditions can affect older people. So, the Geriatrician must have a broad knowledge base, a caring approach (especially with the end of life support), and a comprehensive understanding of the ageing process and its issues.
What is attractive about a career in geriatric medicine?
Not only will you work with older adults, but you will also gain insight into falls, dementia, rehabilitation, stroke care, and community care.
The key attributes required for geriatric medicine are:
- A keen interest in older people’s issues
- Excellent communication skills
- Decision-making skills
- Good team player
- The ability to manage the patient’s condition and treatment in a multifactorial approach (older people often will have several unrelated illnesses or conditions going on at the same time). You will need to be able to compartmentalise all conditions while collaborating them also- a holistic care approach.
What are the common complaints occurring in older people?
- Cognitive impairment-including dementia
- Poor balance, gait or osteoporosis leading to falls
- Depression and mental health illness
- Constipation – due to slowing down of all systems and poor mobility or inadequate dietary intake
- Many medical conditions, such as stroke, high blood pressure, cardiac problems, high cholesterol, etc.
Where do Geriatricians tend to work?
- Community Practice
- Accident & Emergency departments
- Nursing and Care Homes
- Acute General Hospitals
- Outpatient departments
- Rehabilitation Units
What are the day-to-day procedures in geriatric medicine?
Of course, these will vary dependent on the setting, but generally, the key responsibilities will include:
- Holistic care with a person-centric approach- including assessment and care planning. Assessment includes the physical and mental ability of the person.
- Assessment of needs dependent on condition or setting, e.g. rehabilitation, community care or even surgery.
- Palliative care and end of life support will be a vast area requiring the Geriatrician’s input.
What are the different roles for Geriatricians?
Most training programmes in geriatric medicine are dual accredited with general medicine. This usually takes five years; however, in the end, doctors will have comprehensive training in a vast array of conditions and issues occurring in older age. If after the five years trainees want to further specialise in for example stroke care, another add-on year is required.
You can apply for consultancy six months before you achieve your Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT). The work involves managerial opportunities such as medical or clinical director positions, or clinical or educational supervision of junior doctors.
SAS doctor roles
At non-consultant level, you can work as a SAS doctor (Specialist and Associate Specialist). You will need at least four years of postgraduate training. Discover more about SAS doctors here.
Other non-training grade roles are trust grade and clinical fellows.
What is the job market like for Geriatricians in the UK?
Geriatric medicine has 1,233 consultants and 1,010 medical registrars in England (NHS Digital 2016). Female doctors account for 39% of the consultant workforce and 62% of higher specialty trainees in the UK.
Where to look for vacancies in this specialty?
All trainees go through Oriel – an online application system.
As a leading specialist in healthcare recruitment in the UK, at ProMedical, we combine years of experience with genuine teamwork to source some of the UK’s best opportunities. Visit us to see for yourself the vast array of roles we have in many specialties, including Geriatrician.
Care of older people is a rewarding, challenging and diverse career choice. There is an excellent choice in sub-specialities such as stroke medicine, dermatology, endocrine, and several areas to branch into. If you have good communication tools and a supportive approach to older people, then maybe this is the specialty for you.
- NHS health careers
- Royal College of Physicians
- Developing physicians on RCP Medical Care
- British Geriatrics Society
- JRCPTB specialty page and curriculum
- ST3 geriatric medicine person specification
NHS Digital – https://digital.nhs.uk/