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Checking in early


Very few people look forward to the day when they'll have to check into a nursing home. So why would a perfectly healthy 38-year-old move in voluntarily?

To prepare for a career as a geriatrician, according to this New York Times piece:

[Kristen] Murphy, a medical student at the University of New England in Biddeford, Me., who is interested in geriatric medicine, came to New York for a novel program that allowed her to experience life as a nursing home patient.

I won't try to recap the piece further here; it's worth reading in its entirety. But I was struck by these statistics, also from the story:

In 2005, there was one geriatrician for every 5,000 people over 65, according to the American Geriatrics Society; by 2030 that ratio is expected to increase to one for every 8,000 patients. Geriatricians must participate in a two-year fellowship program after medical school to become certified. In 2007, only 253 of 400 fellowship slots were filled, and only 91 of the physicians graduated from medical school in the United States.

The good news is that Murphy, at least, was inspired by her 10 days in the nursing home. Maybe such programs could be a tool to recruit young doctors to the field.

Photo by DerrickT

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