Shortage of Geriatric Doctors

Rather than seeing an increase in the number of physicians who specialize in geriatric medicine, Canada is facing a shortage while the aging population continues to grow.  By 2018, Statistics Canada expects the population over 65 to grow to approximately 6.4 million, however only about half of the available spots for medical students to train in geriatrics are being filled.

It is estimated that there are only 250 geriatricians across Canada which translates into a huge shortage of physicians trained to properly care for the rapidly aging population.  At present, all medical schools in Canada require a rotation in pediatrics but only 7 of 18 schools have a mandatory geriatric clinical rotation according to a 2009 survey published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

In response to this known deficit in the Canadian health care system, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care released a report with recommendations to develop a Seniors Strategy.   The report supports increasing the geriatric content in medical schools as well as establishing an accreditation standard for training in the care of older adults.

The strategy calls for a provincial working group of health care professionals with expertise in caring for the senior population.  Geriatric Assessment Clinics, like the one at Brock Community Health Centre in Beaverton, use on-site primary care nurse practitioners and video conferencing to assess the health of elderly residents.  Contact your doctor or Community Care Access Centre to find out about geriatric clinics and outreach programs in your area.