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What is Geriatric Psychiatry?

Geriatric psychiatry is a specialty focused on preventing, evaluating, diagnosing, and treating emotional and mental disorders in older adults.

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A Rising Need for Geriatric Psychiatrists

Numerous studies have repeatedly confirmed the increasing incidence of mental illness among the aging population.

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Geriatric psychiatric training requires 4 years of medical school, 4 years of approved residency training in general psychiatry, and 1 year of specialty fellowship training in psychiatric work with older adults in an accredited residency in geriatric psychiatry.

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When the psychiatry resident has completed their geriatric psychiatry fellowship and successfully passed the certification examination in general psychiatry given by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN), they are eligible to take the additional certification examination in the subspecialty of geriatric psychiatry.

Career Satisfaction

"Physicians who specialize in the treatment of children, newborns, the elderly, and skin disorders and who practice in the New England and West Central regions of the country are more satisfied with their careers than their colleagues in other specialties and regions."

- Researchers at UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center 

August 2002

"In a national survey of fellows who had trained in geriatric medicine and psychiatry, the vast majority of former fellows expressed satisfaction with their current work. Satisfaction with a career choice in geriatrics was significantly greater among those physicians who had practices with large numbers of patients over 75, accepted Medicare assignment, spent their time as clinician-researchers, and had a medical school appointment."

- Siu, Al; Beck, JC; UCLA Department of Medicine

1990 Career Development Opportunities in Geriatric Psychiatry

"In fact, a recent study found that geriatric physicians were more likely to have very high career satisfaction than physicians from 32 other specialties."

- Archives of Internal Medicine

July 2002

AAGP Mentoring/Training Programs

The American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry (AAGP) has several programs for medical students, residents, and fellows for the purpose of increasing exposure to and interest in geriatric psychiatry. These programs have been very successful in that students, residents, and fellows have had the opportunity to be mentored by senior geriatric psychiatrists, attend the AAGP Annual Meeting, receive the scientifically peer review journal, the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, among other benefits and programmatic components. For the latest information on available AAGP mentoring/training programs, please visit www.AAGPonline.org/scholars.

NIH Research Loan Repayment Program

The National Institutes of Health offers Loan Repayment Programs to attract health professionals to careers in clinical, pediatric, health disparity, or contraceptive and infertility research. In exchange for a two or three-year (for Intramural General Research) commitment to your research career, NIH will repay part of your qualified educational debt. In addition, the NIH will make corresponding Federal tax payments for credit to your Internal Revenue Service tax account that you incur as a result of your LRP benefits. For more information, visit the NIH website at www.lrp.nih.gov.

How to Find a Geriatric Psychiatrist

To support the overall health and well-being of older adults, it is as important to address your mental health just as you would physical health. You will need to surround your aging loved ones with a dedicated support team. This can include family members, caregivers, and mental health clinicians. 

Depending on where you live, you may or may not have easy access to a geriatric psychiatrist, but often you can find providers that offer virtual services. Use the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry’s database to search for the a geriatric psychiatry specialist in your state.

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