Becoming a Geriatrician

Geriatric doctors do not exactly have the most well-respected reputation in the medical industry.  But sometimes, that can be an attraction.  At least it was for Dr. Adrian Wagg.  He kept on hearing that working with seniors was boring and certainly not even close to the glamor one gets as a heart surgeon.  It also wasn’t as exciting as being an ER doctor and the pay isn’t much to write home about either.  So why go into that field? (This is probably why there is such a shortage of these doctors – who, as our population ages and we fight off more diseases and there is an increase of seniors – are few and far between). Indeed, according to Statistics Canada, in Canada today there are 4.2 million seniors – a figure that is expected to increase to 9.8 million in the next 25 years. With only 230 geriatricians to serve them, there is a severe shortage.

Unpopular Medical Choice

Clearly it’s not a profession young doctors want to take on either.  Out of these 230 in Canada, a mere seven are under the age of 35.  It is said that a good 500 more Geriatricians are required for the country. This really shouldn’t be so difficult given that there are many qualified doctors there, who just choose other areas of expertise.  Looking at ER doctors for example, the country has 628 of these, with 46 being under the 35-year group. And when it comes to the antithesis of Geriatrics, Canada has a staggering 2,372 pediatricians, of whom 152 are younger than 35.

Geriatrics in the UK

Interestingly, the situation is somewhat different in the UK.  It is quite a popular choice of residency, perhaps due to the fact that it is one of the few specialties without caps on positions.  Dr. Wagg found one of his teachers very influential there and thus wanted to follow in his footsteps and today is director of geriatric medicine at the University of Alberta.  For him personally, become a Geriatrician was particularly attractive because it would enable him to work in both academia and practice as a doctor.  It has also been pointed out how important it is to understand the ageing population as truthfully, every patient is aging!  So more medical students really need to consider this field as a career option.