While 84 percent of optometry schools and colleges reported a required geriatrics course, the content of these courses was variable.
Only one of the eight schools of podiatric medicine has a discrete course devoted to the care of geriatric patients, while six list courses specific to the care of pediatric patients (AACPM, 2007).
In a 2004 survey of dietetics and nutrition programs, 22 percent of the undergraduate programs and 44 percent of the graduate programs offered courses in aging (Rhee et al., 2004). In comparison, maternal and child health courses were offered in 31 and 51 percent of the programs, respectively. Thirty-seven percent of graduate programs had no faculty in geriatrics.
None of the following specialties with high volumes of older patients has a subspecialty certificate available in geriatrics: dermatology, emergency medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, or surgery. By contrast, all have certification in pediatrics (ABMS, 2007).
Of particular importance are the many occupations that fall under the broad category of “allied health care workers.” This term is ill-defined, and the many definitions that have been developed are often contradictory (Lecca et al., 2003). In general, allied health care workers represent nearly 200 different occupations, including various types of technologists, technicians, therapists, and health-information professionals. Many of the allied health occupations are currently experiencing shortages and are projected to be among the fastest-growing occupations in the United States (BLS, 2007a). These groups face significant increases in need for their services in all care settings (Chapman et al., 2004). The geriatric education and training of the allied health care workforce is highly variable and is usually structured according to the standards of the appropriate accrediting body.
In addition to the particular professional concerns discussed in the previous section, there are a number of other overarching issues that all professions face in the geriatric education and training of their practitioners. First, the education and training of all types of professionals depends on the availability of qualified faculty. Second, practitioners should be aware of the unique health care needs of several special elderly populations; these populations include various racial and ethnic groups as well as the growing number of lesbian, gay, and bisexual older adults.11 Third, all practitioners