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Keywords:

  • geriatric medicine;
  • geriatric medicine fellowship training programs

This article documents the development of geriatric medicine fellowship training in the United States through 2009. Results from a national cross-sectional survey of all geriatric medicine fellowship training programs conducted in 2007 is compared with results from a similar survey in 2002. Secondary data sources were used to supplement the survey results. The 2007 survey response rate was 71%. Sixty-seven percent of responding programs directors have completed formal geriatric medicine fellowship training and are board certified in geriatrics, and 29% are board certified through the practice pathway. The number of Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education–accredited fellowship programs has slowly increased, from 120 (23 family medicine (FM) and 97 internal medicine (IM)) in 2001/02 to 145 in 2008/09 (40 FM and 105 IM), resulting in a 21% increase in fellowship programs and a 13% increase in the number of first-year fellows (259 to 293). In 2008/09, the growth in programs and first-year slots, combined with the weak demand for geriatrics training, resulted in more than one-third of first-year fellow positions being unfilled. The number of advanced fellows decreased slightly from 72 in 2001/00 to 65 in 2006/07. In 2006/07, 55% of the advanced fellows were enrolled at four training programs. In 2008/09, 66% of fellows were international medical school graduates. The small numbers of graduating geriatric medicine fellows are insufficient to care for the expanding population of older frail patients, train other disciples in the care of complex older adults, conduct research in aging, and be leaders in the field.