How to Get Doctors Up to Speed with Geriatrics

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation has committed $1 million to the University of Utah Health Science Center to better train physicians in geriatrics. (See Reynolds Foundation: Grants for Higher Education.) Along with nine other training sites, the University of Utah won funding as part of the foundation's Next Steps in Physicians' Training in Geriatrics Program. This is the second grant Utah has received from Reynolds, following an initial $2 million back in 2006 to "develop a curriculum that provides every U. medical school student training in geriatric medicine," according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

The $10 million given to the 10 grantees is the second and final of two grants since the Reynolds Foundation announced its geriatrics program. The money provides geriatric training for surgeons and physicians who need to "work with other health disciplines in teams to provide better care for older patients," according to the Foundation Center. Reynolds Chairman Fred W. Smith said the program's latest $10 million brings the grand total to $100 million in geriatrics donations since its inception in 1996.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration on Aging estimates that the number of people in this country over the age of 65 will grow to 70 million by 2030. This number has doubled since 2000. And as the baby boomers edge ever further past middle age, the medical community is biting its nails down to the cuticle trying to figure out how to provide them with sufficient health care.

One problem is figuring out how to keep this population glut from driving Social Security into bankruptcy as the boomers retire. Another is figuring out how to adequately train the medical workforce to deal with a spike in the number of older people who need care. A survey conducted by the Association of Directors of Geriatric Academic Programs found that 39% of graduating medical students did not feel as though they had received adequate training in geriatrics care.

The Reynolds Foundation directs its philanthropic aspirin toward this second headache. (Read Foundation President Lynn Mosier's IP profile.)