Jan. 25, 2002
Volume XXXV, No. 4

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Grant award expands geriatric training at UTHSC

PHOTO ALFORD

Future physicians are learning the realities their aging patients will face thanks to a joint grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation and the American Association of Medical Colleges.

The organizations awarded Dr. Cynthia Alford, assistant professor in the department of medicine and program director of the John A. Hartford Center of Excellence for Geriatrics Education, a two-year, $100,000 grant.

Dr. Alford will use the funds to implement additional geriatrics training for medical students.

"By the year 2030, more than half of the patients in primary care will be over the age of 65," Dr. Alford said. "All doctors will need to know some geriatrics. But currently, there are not enough geriatricians available to meet the projected training needs."

PHOTO First-year medical students Lindy Bankes (left) and Kevin Schindler interview Dorothy Gallagher (center) at Merrill Gardens at San Antonio. Gallagher is a volunteer "senior professor." The UTHSC program pairs senior citizens with medical students. The students visit with seniors to gain clinical geriatric experience early in their training.

Dr. Alford said this grant will enable the department to add a didactics and clinical training program for all second-year students and a course on geriatrics in the subspecialties for fourth-year students.

"This is the health care need of the future, and it is our responsibility to help students heed it," Dr. Alford said.

First- and third-year medical students already rotate through established clinical programs. "We're learning to see health care through the patient's eyes," said Kevin Schindler, first-year medical student who meets with volunteer senior Dorothy Gallagher every six weeks. "I've learned a lot about what makes a good physician and what doesn't."

Dr. Alford will work with geriatricians to develop the additional training courses. She has the opportunity to renew the grant at the end of the two-year period.

The Health Science Center is one of only 40 institutions selected nationwide to receive the grant.


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