The Development of Academic Geriatric Medicine in the United States 2005 to 2010: An Essential Resource for Improving the Medical Care of Older Adults


Address correspondence to Elizabeth Bragg, PhD, RN, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Cincinnati, PO Box 670582, Cincinnati, OH 45267. E-mail:


Academic geriatric medicine programs are critical for training the physician workforce to care effectively for aging Americans. This article updates the progress made by U.S. medical schools from 2005 to 2010 in developing these programs. Academic leaders in geriatrics in accredited allopathic and osteopathic medical schools were surveyed in the winter of 2010 (60% response rate), and results were compared with findings from a similar 2005 survey (68% response rate). Physician faculty in geriatrics increased from 9.6 (mean) full-time equivalents (FTEs) in 2005 to 11.2 by 2010. In 2010, faculty and staff effort was mostly devoted to clinical practice (mean = 37%) and education (mean = 33%), with only seven responding schools devoting more than 40% of faculty effort to research. Schools that have been designated as Centers of Excellence had a median 20 FTE physician faculty, compared with seven at the other schools (< .001). In 2010, 27% of medical schools required a geriatrics clerkship, and 87% (n = 83) had an elective geriatric clerkship. In summary, more fellows and faculty were recruited and trained in 2010 than in 2005, and some academic programs have emerged with strong education, research, and clinical initiatives. Medical student exposure to geriatrics curriculum has increased, but few academic geriatricians are pursuing research careers, and the number of practicing geriatricians is declining. New approaches to training the entire physician workforce to care for older adults will be required to ensure adequate medical care for aging Americans.