Recently I attended an open house at the Overlake Bellevue Senior Health Clinic not far from Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue. The casual event gave visitors the opportunity to meet with the clinic’s geriatricians and care team, tour the clinic and learn about the clinic’s dedicated pharmaceutical team.
I particularly enjoyed meeting all four of the clinic’s geriatric specialists including the newest member of the team, Kentaro Nishino, MD. Visiting with Dr. Nishino I learned that he was born, raised and attended college and medical school in Texas. Then after nearly 10 years of advanced education in Hawaii, he and his young family settled here on the Eastside.
“No, I don’t have a sad or emotional story about my own grandparents” said Nishino with a huge grin. “But while doing my residence rotation, I discovered that I really enjoyed older patients and decided to focus on gerontology.”
Super! We at Andelcare are very happy to hear that, Dr. Nishino, because we understand there is a great need for geriatric physicians and not nearly enough of them to go around. We welcome you and your cohorts as we all work to promote healthy aging and improved quality of life for our seniors.
We know that in general you work hard, listen with both ears and exhibit saintly patience with elders. You are an amazing resource to families and help us manage difficult times. We also understand that geriatricians are the poor siblings of most every other medical specialty. In the future we hope this discrepancy is rectified and you get more appropriate compensation.
What do geriatricians do?
It seems that geriatricians are usually primary care physicians who are specially trained in the normal and abnormal changes associated with aging. They also recognize the importance of helping elders stay independent by maintaining their health as well as disease prevention. Geriatric fellowship training requires one year of training beyond general internal medicine residency, which prepares them for board certification in geriatrics.
According to a recent article by Katie Hafner in the “New York Times,” there simply are not enough geriatricians to meet the rising tide of elders. Projections suggest that by the year 2030, roughly 31 million Americans will be older than 75. There are about 7,000 geriatricians in practice today in the United States. The American Geriatrics Society estimates that to meet the demand, medical schools would have to train at least 6,250 additional geriatricians between now and 2030, or about 450 more a year than the current rate.
Find a geriatrician early
Partly due to the limited supply of geriatricians but mostly due to the care they can provide, professionals suggest the 65 and older crowd find a geriatrician while they are relatively young. Then, as time goes by, your geriatrician knows you and your individual aging experience.
Recent evidence about care provided by geriatrics teams shows that with the care of such teams, the hospitalization of older adults runs shorter, costs less and results in fewer complications, including falls, pressure ulcers and urinary tract infections.
The Geriatric Physician (Courtesy Senior Health Clinic, Overlake Medical Center)
- Board certified in geriatric medicine in addition to internal or family medicine.
- Specializes in taking care of seniors, 65 age and older.
- Look at senior issues including memory loss, urinary problems, falls, osteoporosis and complex medication regimens.
- Treat physical problems, recognize how they affect seniors socially and emotionally.
- Recognize problem medications, help patients avoid adverse reactions.
- Promote healthy aging and improved quality of life for seniors
What are your questions about geriatricians?