Title VII Geriatric Health Professions Education Programs

The Bureau of Health Professions in the HHS Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) administers programs aimed to help to assure adequate numbers of health care practitioners for the nation’s geriatric population, especially in underserved areas.  

Despite growing evidence of the need for more geriatric specialists to care for the nation’s elderly population, a critical shortage persists.  In 2001, there were about 2,600 geriatric psychiatrists.  In 2005, that number had been reduced to 2,100, less than half of the 5,000 that are needed to provide adequate care for the current population of older adults.  The numbers are similar for geriatricians, with fewer than 7,000 certified, far short of the 20,000 needed to meet current needs. 

The Affordable Care Act authorized expansions of these programs, which are under Titles VII and VIII of the Public Health Service Act.  AAGP strongly supported these expansions, but increased funding will be necessary if they are to meet the growing demand.

The geriatric health professions program supports these important initiatives:

  • The Geriatric Training Program for Physicians, Dentists, and Behavioral and Mental Health Professions supports training additional faculty in medicine, dentistry, and behavioral and mental health so that they have the expertise, skills and knowledge to teach geriatrics and gerontology to the next generation of health professionals in their disciplines. 
  • The Geriatric Academic Career Award program encourages newly trained geriatric specialists to move into academic medicine.  Under ACA, the program has been expanded to include specialists in other disciplines.
  • The Geriatric Education Center (GEC) program provides grants to support collaborative arrangements that provide training in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.  The shortage of geriatric specialists will soon become a major public crisis if it is not addressed.  Under ACA, Congress approved a supplemental grant award program that will train additional faculty through a mini-fellowship program and requires that those faculty provide training to family caregivers and direct care workers.  The law also requires grantees to incorporate mental health and dementia “best practices” training into their courses where appropriate.
  • The Geriatric Career Incentive Awards program, newly authorized under ACA,  provides for grants to foster great interest among a variety of health professionals entering the field of geriatrics, long-term care, and chronic care management.