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Keywords:

  • geriatrics;
  • medical education;
  • pregraduate teaching;
  • life-long training

By 2050, the European population of 720 million will include 187 million (one quarter) octogenarians. Although living longer is a true privilege, care for the graying population suffering from chronic and disabling diseases will raise enormous challenges to healthcare systems and geriatric education. Are European countries ready to cope with these challenges? An extensive 2006 survey of geriatric education in thirty-one of 33 European countries testifies that geriatrics is a recognized medical specialty in 16 countries and a subspecialty in nine of them. Six European countries have an established chair of geriatric medicine in each of their medical schools. Undergraduate teaching activities are organized in 25 of the surveyed countries and postgraduate teaching in 22 countries under the leadership of geriatricians (n=16) or general internists (n=6). A comparison with data collected in the 1990s shows important progresses: the number of established chairs increased by 45%, the undergraduate and postgraduate teaching activities increased respectively by 23% and 19%. However, these changes are very heterogeneously organized from country to country and within each country. In most European countries, there remains a huge need for reinforcing and harmonizing geriatric teaching activities to prepare the next generation of medical doctors to address the projected increase in chronic and disabled older patients. Several different innovative strategies are proposed.