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Paradoxical Decline of Geriatric Medicine

In anticipation of the aging of the 76 million members of the Baby Boomer generation, geriatrics became a specialty 35 years ago, writes the author of a Viewpoint article. “While the importance of the profession of geriatric medicine and the need for geriatricians seem obvious, it should not surprise anyone that it is the career choice of ever-diminishing numbers of medical students and residents,” the writer notes. “The demographic trends in our population have not attracted them to the field; societal attitudes about aging have clearly compounded the negative effects of lower compensation and lack of prestige on their career decisions.

“Our nation is beginning to experience the full impact of the aging of our population. Sadly, our health system and its workforce are wholly unprepared to deal with an imminent surge of multimorbidity, functional impairment, dementia, and frailty. This is the reality that health care organizations and medical schools have not adequately appreciated, or have chosen to ignore.

“It will be extraordinarily difficult to alter the trajectory of the specialty of geriatric medicine. Geriatricians will never stop advocating for better care of our aging population and the need for physicians with expertise in geriatric medicine. The decline of the profession of geriatric medicine matters, and all too soon we will all realize why.”

Source: JAMA