University of Wisconsin
School of Medicine and Public Health

Geriatrics and Gerontology Education

Introduction

The University of Wisconsin (UW) Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology and the Madison Veterans Affairs (VA) Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) have worked collaboratively for over 25 years to promote excellence in education, clinical care, and research to improve the health of older adults. The following sections describe the programs sponsored by the UW and VA to accomplish the major goals of the Division of Geriatrics.


Education

The UW Division of Geriatrics and the Madison VA GRECC faculty sponsor educational programs at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health that integrate interdisciplinary principles of Geriatric Medicine into undergraduate, graduate, and continuing medical education. These educational programs are designed to improve the health of older adults by providing training in 1) the approach and care of older adults, 2) the identification of unique presentations of disease in older persons, 3) differentiating disease states from "normal aging", 4) managing geriatric syndromes, and 5) clinical research in aging and aging-related diseases. In addition, our faculty members work closely with undergraduate students as well as advanced practice trainees in social work, nursing, physician's assistant training, and physical therapy.

Our educational focus is to provide innovative and effective means for clinicians of all disciplines to be competent in the care of older persons. Acknowledging that only a small percentage of all health professionals will specialize in geriatrics, we look to infiltrate geriatric principles across different levels of training and within multiple care settings. In most cases this is accomplished by integrating teaching into existing educational programs and into the context of practice as appropriate to the learner. We also recognize the need to expose students to those older adults who are aging well and remaining functional in the community. Meeting learner needs and providing for learner choice are key ingredients in maximizing utilization and program success.

Medical Student Training in Geriatrics

There is a continuum of professional growth between medical school, residency and practice in which the evolving physician achieves progressively more sophisticated competencies. In order to influence the attitudes of physicians-in-training, geriatrics is integrated throughout all four years of the curriculum, most notably:

Residency Training in Geriatrics

  • Internal Medicine Residency Program includes a four week geriatrics ambulatory rotation for all first year residents.  This experience provides exposure to the continuum of geriatric care services within the clinic, hospital, nursing home and community. Based at the VA Hospital, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics and Madison Community, this rotation balances a primary care and specialty focus with a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary teams.
  • Geriatrics Elective for IM and Family Medicine Residents: This one-month rotation tailors experiences in 1 of 3 tracks for second- and third-year residents with a particular career interest in geriatric medicine. These domains include community geriatrics, long-term care and geriatric specialty care.
  • Continuity clinics in geriatrics medicine are an opportunity for advanced IM residents interested in additional training in the care of older adults.