CARP Encouraging New Geratric Physicians

The CARP 25th Anniversary Scholarship Fund for Students in Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology

“House and Senate Democrats on Thursday jointly introduced a bill intended to address a shortage of providers in geriatric medicine, the Washington Times reports, January 2009. About 7,000 U.S. physicians, or about 1%, are certified geriatricians, “even as the population of older people is on track to double by 2030,” according to the Times. The bill, called the Retooling the Health Care Workforce for an Aging America Act, would expand education and training opportunities in the fields of geriatrics and long-term care for licensed health professionals, direct care workers and family caregivers.”

There is a severe shortage of geriatric medical professionals and gerontologists in North America. The bill noted above in the U.S. Congress recognizes and seeks to address this situation in the context of an aging population. Canadian governments have not yet taken action to address the shortage.

“There are only 216 Geriatricians (Geriatric doctors) in Canada, one-fifth of those needed, and few of them are working with patients full-time. Many focus on research and 43 are close to retirement. There are only six geriatricians in the country under the age of 35.

“We’ve rarely got more than 10 doctors doing final exams in geriatrics in Canada in one year, and usually much less,” says Dr. Barry Goldlist, director of geriatric medicine, University of Toronto, and medical director of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.

The shrinking pool of expertise comes at a time when 40 per cent of health-care dollars is spent on seniors, who represent just 13 per cent of the overall population. Studies show that when geriatric services are introduced in a hospital, bed blocking (elders stuck in hospital past their discharge date) goes down by 50 per cent.” Toronto Star article, Nov. 2008

The shortage of Geriatric doctors and nurses and Gerontologists in Canada calls for action. 2009 marks the 25th Anniversary of CARP.

CARP proposes to launch a significant national campaign to draw member and public attention to this issue.

Specifically, CARP will establish a Scholarship Fund for students interested in careers in Gerontology and Geriatric medicine and nursing.

The Scholarship Fund can be built around a membership campaign. This initiative would give individuals, organizations and groups an even greater reason to join and support CARP, and would also give our Chapters and Ambassadors an additional cause for building a strong “Join Now” campaign. This would be a one-time campaign only through to April 2010, the end of this fiscal year.

CARP would donate a portion of every new membership to this scholarship fund. It would be our unique response to the need for more health care professionals in those fields. It is also a means for CARP to promote and support the engagement of young people in these fields in response to the changing demographic patterns in our society. CARP will actually be contributing to the solution at the same time as it is advocating for a call to action to deal with the shortage. There are a number of universities in Canada offering undergraduate, graduate studies, and Ph.D programs in Gerontology. In addition there are 16 Medical Schools in Canada. Those universities would endorse and administer the CARP scholarships.