National Survey of Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship Programs: Comparing Findings in 2006/07 and 2001/02 From the American Geriatrics Society and Association of Directors of Geriatric Academic Programs' Geriatrics Workforce Policy Studies Center

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Abstract

Objective:

To document the development of geriatric psychiatry (GP) fellowship training in the United States through 2008.

Methods:

A cross-sectional survey of the 56 U.S. GP fellowship programs was conducted in summer 2007. Longitudinal data from the American Medical Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges' National Graduate Medical Education Census and data from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education were also analyzed.

Results:

Thirty-seven (66%) of 56 program directors responded. The number of fellowship programs has decreased over the past 7 years. During 2006/07, 72 fellows were in training, as compared with 94 fellows in 2001/02. Application rates declined significantly with a mean of 4.3 applications per program in 2006/07 as compared with the mean of 10 applications per program in 2001/02. The fill rate for first-year GP fellowship positions dropped from 61% in 2001/02 to 48% in 2006/07. During 2006/07, 67% of programs reported having two or fewer first-year fellows and 16% had no first-year fellows. Seventeen programs reported having no United States medical school graduates as first-year fellows.

Conclusion:

The number of GP fellows in training has declined by 23% from 2001/02 to 2006/07. This decline has occurred at the same time when the number of older adults continues to expand rapidly. It is critical that an adequate number of geriatric psychiatrists be trained to support and educate general psychiatrists in the care of the elderly. Specific strategies need to be developed urgently to stimulate interest in careers in clinical and academic GP.

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