Given the anticipated limited availability of geriatricians for the foreseeable future, how should the geriatrician's specialized clinical skills be deployed to optimally benefit the health of our aging population? Directors of geriatrics academic programs (DGAPs) at all 145 U.S. allopathic and osteopathic medical schools were asked this question as part of a winter 2007 on-line survey. The DGAPs were to indicate the types of patients who would most benefit from a geriatrician's services in three practice situations: primary care, consultations, and care in the hospital. The survey response rate was 74.5%. There was high consensus among the DGAPs on the benefits of having a geriatrician care for the most complex and vulnerable older adults in primary care and hospital settings. There was slightly less consensus as to when geriatrics consultations are beneficial. The patient subsets that were viewed as benefiting the most from geriatrician care were aged 85 and older, frailty, geriatric syndromes, severe functional impairment, and complexity. The results of this survey suggest that, because of the predicted shortage of geriatricians, the DGAPs would target geriatricians to work with the most vulnerable older adults. These findings offer the beginning of a consensus statement as to the role of geriatricians in the continuum of American medical care.