A leading Missouri medical educator writes in the nation’s leading medical publication that his profession needs to do more with elderly, frail, and vulnerable patients.
Doctor Steven Zweig, who passed the nation’s first certifying examination in geriatric medicine, has made it his focus throughout a career that has put him in charge of the family and community medicine department at the University of Missouri School of Medicine in Columbia.
His article in the October Journal of the American Medical Association says there is a growing need for doctors who can help the aging population get proper care and make end-of-life decisions.
He says there are few doctors who want to care for older patients and for a long time there had not been a way to teach resident specialists about elder care. “All of us, whether we do family medicine or internal medicine or geriatric medicine have to touch older patients and are responsible for doing a good job. Clearly those who practice orthopedic surgery, cardiology, ophthalmology,…are all involved in taking care of older patients. So there are a lot of basic principles that apply to the work that all of us do.,” he says.
The University of Missouri was one of the first medical school to start a cross-discipline training geriatrics program for its students. Zweig says about 40 of the nation’s 400 medical schools have followed suit.