Summer institute challenges future doctors

Seniors make up the fastest-growing age group, with an estimated 5 million Canadians now 65 years of age or older. And that number is expected to double in the next 25 years.

Having enough geriatric specialists to meet the demand is already a challenge, which is why the Canadian Geriatrics Society and The University of Western Ontario’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry are sponsoring the Summer Institute of Geriatrics. Thirty first- and second-year students from 11 medical schools across Canada are in in London this week for this intensive course in the specialized care required by older adults.

The formal curriculum features talks on geriatrics as a career choice, the healthy spectrum of aging, the biological and physiological changes that occur due to normal aging, poly-pharmacy, and cognitive change. The students will also have a chance to hone their geriatric clinical skills, learn about assessment of driving in a cognitively impaired population, and about common eye conditions seen in older adults.

“This biannual program is aimed at students who have expressed an interest in furthering their knowledge about geriatric medicine,“ says Dr. Laura Diachun, professor in the Division of Geriatric Medicine, and co-organizer of the Institute, along with her colleague Dr. Sheri-Lynn Kane. “Along with the curriculum, students will also have the opportunity to interact with older adults to discuss perceptions about aging, and medical care. We hope many of these students will be inspired to choose geriatrics for their future careers.”