I have been involved in Health Education all my life. As I start to approach my 60″s, I have noticed the long lines in the doctor’s office. Even when you have a scheduled appointment, you can end up waiting longer. A good friend of mind, who is a doctor, has told me his hours appear to be getting longer and longer. His family life, even when he has free time is not free. However, he loves his job and his patients.
As our country gets older, there is going to be a need for more doctors and people in the health profession. USA Today has said that by 2030, 20% of the American population will be 65 or older. The lines will be getting longer as will the waits in the office. Modern medicine is helping people live longer. However, with this comes a larger base of older individuals.
There is a specialized group of individuals that specifically deal with older individuals. That group is called Geriatrics. Currently, this group has a significant shortage of workers. There are many reasons that their group is small. One major reason is health insurance and Medicare. Medicare payments from the government are running behind schedule. Other insurances are hard to come by for seniors because of higher rates. Thus, the stability of being paid as a geriatric doctor aren’t too secure.
Still the need for Geriatrics is great. It will continue to be great as long as the nation ages. This opens up a lot of opportunities for individuals that want to go into the health industry. Geriatrics are board certified. They spend three years as an intern and spend another one to three years in specialized training. Being board certified means that they can practice family and internal medicine.
A Geriatric can look at an elder persons medicine and make changes for them. Some individuals struggle when they are put on new prescriptions. A Geriatric can step in examine the situation and make changes for that particular individual. A Geriatrician usually spends more time with their patient that a normal practitioner. There are several reasons for this. The main reason is to give the patient the proper counseling that they need. As the patient gets older, the geriatric sometimes has to communicate with the patients spouse. This is to make sure that medications are properly taken. It is not unusual for a patient to have multiple medications.
Most insurance companies only allow for a 15 minute or less visit. This can cause great problems in communication with the patient.
Young people going into the health profession aren’t attracted to Geriatrics for other reasons as well. First, it isn’t an attractive career and second medical schools aren’t encouraging individuals to go into the profession.
One thing for sure, the need for Geriatric doctors is there. It will continue grow. If the problem isn’t addressed soon, there will be longer lines and waiting in the doctors office. This will also place tougher demands on the regular family doctor, who is already over worked in many parts of the the country.
So if you are thinking about a career that has a wide open field, it would be that of being a Geriatric.