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Center funded to promote geriatrics instruction (1/9/98)

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is one of nine national sites chosen to create a "center of excellence" in geriatrics to better teach physicians how to care for older patients. The center will be financed with a $525,000 grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation in New York. The three-year grant will underwrite additional curriculum and clinical training for medical students that stresses the needs of the elderly.

"We will devote ourselves to developing the next generation of academic geriatricians," said David V. Espino, MD, associate professor of family practice at the Health Science Center and director of the new center.

"The resources developed by the Health Science Center over the years in geriatrics and family medicine have enabled us to be in this position. We are receiving the only grant in the nation that will be housed in a department of family practice," Dr. Espino said.

The center officially opened Jan. 2. Co-director Michael S. Katz, MD, is a professor of medicine at the Health Science Center and director of the Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center at Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital in San Antonio, a part of the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, Audie Murphy Division.

Health professionals from the Health Science Center and the VA have worked together for many years in scientific studies and clinical research to improve the quality of treatment of senior patients. The center will be formally known as the Hartford Center for Excellence in Geriatrics Education. Other institutions receiving grants include Harvard, Johns Hopkins, UCLA, Baylor and Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Starting in the next school term, the Hartford center will provide medical students in San Antonio with several new choices in courses, electives, fellowships and residencies that focus on aging and the treatment of the senior patient. In addition, the center plans to provide geriatrics instruction to medical students in specialties such as orthopeadics, obstetrics-gynecology and ophthalmology.

The center's geriatrics curriculum will be available to students throughout their four years in medical school. Specialized clinical training also will be offered to family practice students in the three years they spend in residency after graduation. Residency is the period when graduates undergo their final clinical training before entering independent practice.

With the center, new curriculum options begin for first-year students who may choose a clinical integration course that pairs students with an elder patient in assisted living. The students will follow the patient through medical school, reviewing the senior's medication, medical history and writing a "life review" about the senior's past. The center will also provide slots for three family practice residents whose clinical training will focus on geriatrics.

Contact: Jim Barrett (210) 567-2570