The number of medical students choosing geriatrics is going down at the same time the number of seniors is going up, a new U.S. study says.
By the year 2030, an estimated 70 million Americans will be older than 65, but in the last decade the number of certified doctors specializing in treating older patients has declined from 8,800 to 7,100, according to a study released April 5 by researchers at the University of Cincinnati.
New geriatricians are also not forthcoming, the researchers said. From 1999 to 2006, the percentage of medical students entering family medicine, which includes geriatrics as a subspecialty, dropped 6.3 percent.
In addition, only two-thirds of geriatric fellowship positions were filled last year, the study found.
Doctors in other specialties who sometimes treat aging patients also said their training was inadequate.
The primary reason, according to the authors, is money. In 2006, the average student debt of a new doctor was $113,000. The relatively low salaries for geriatric specialists combined with the additional years of schooling required are discouraging medical students from pursing the field.
[ via United Press International ]