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Summer 2011 issue (pdf)

Grant supports new approach in geriatrics residency training

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation has awarded a $1 million grant to The Medical College of Wisconsin to support a new initiative focused on geriatric training for physicians in hospital-based residency or fellowship training programs.

The Foundation awarded grants totaling almost $10 million to support comprehensive projects in academic health centers to train physicians in geriatrics.

At The Medical College of Wisconsin, the Reynolds Foundation grant will be used to develop new approaches to residency training of hospital-based physicians to assure that physicians are prepared to care for older people in their respective specialties. The effort is led by Edmund H. Duthie, MD, GME ’80, Professor and Chief of Geriatric Medicine; Kathryn Denson, MD, GME ’99, Associate Professor of Medicine (Geriatrics/ Gerontology), and Deborah Simpson, PhD, Associate Dean for Educational Support and Evaluation and the Elsa B. and Roger D. Cohen, MDs Professor in Medical Education at both the Medical College and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Dr. Simpson is also Professor of Family and Community Medicine.

The U.S. Bureau of the Census projects the number of Americans age 65 and older in 2030 will be 71 million, more than twice the number of American senior citizens in 2000. About 80 percent of the nation’s elderly population has at least one chronic medical condition.

“With the exception of pediatrics and neonatology, physicians in every specialty field of medicine are caring for an increasing number of elderly patients,” Dr. Duthie said. “We need to ensure that the next generation of physicians is grounded not only in their specialty field, but also in the special needs required to care for older patients.”

The new Medical College geriatric training initiative will engage 17 residency and fellowship specialty training programs to develop geriatrics education teams within each program that systematically develop, deliver, access and evaluate specialty-specific geriatrics instruction.

“This effort will align with the College’s student curricular innovation that is already underway,” said Dr. Denson.

Dr. Simpson said, “The Medical College’s residency and fellowship training programs, like our medical school curriculum, must integrate core concepts and principles from the sciences. The Reynolds award will allow us to work with each residency program to incorporate these concepts into case-based instructional sessions and to create point-of-care podcasts for anytime learning.”

The Medical College’s program is important, said Dr. Duthie, because no national requirement insists that medical students or residents spend dedicated time learning to treat older adults, even though their needs are unique. The College benefited from an earlier Reynolds grant supporting geriatric medical education, but it was not renewable.

“We are thrilled to be back among the Foundation’s grantee institutions, and additional philanthropy would be great for helping us sustain this effort,” he said.

The College’s geriatric training initiative for physicians in hospital-based residency training programs is a companion project to a residency training initiative in primary care funded by the Wisconsin Geriatric Education Center through a five-year, Title VII Health Resources and Services Administration award – a collaboration with Marquette University.

Clockwise from left: Edmund H. Duthie, MD, GME ’80; Travis Webb, MD, GME ’05; Thomas Wade, MD; Yana Thaker; John Petronovich; Christopher J. Anderson; Catherine M. Tsufis; Bonnie Bobit, MD; Brahm Vasudev, MD, Fel ’05; Judith Rehm; Kathryn Denson, MD, GME ’99; and Carley Sauter, MD ’07.

Participants in a recent Geriatric Education Teams orientation meeting discuss the next steps in the new residency education project. Pictured (clockwise from left) are Edmund H. Duthie, MD, GME ’80, Professor and Chief of Geriatric Medicine; Travis Webb, MD, GME ’05, Associate Professor of Surgery (Trauma/Critical Care) and Associate Residency Program Director in Surgery; Thomas Wade, MD, Surgery resident; Yana Thaker, first-year medical student in Master Clinician Pathway; John Petronovich, second-year medical student in Master Clinician Pathway; Christopher J. Anderson, second-year medical student in Clinician Educator Pathway; Catherine M. Tsufis, first-year medical student in Clinician Educator Pathway; Bonnie Bobit, MD, Family Medicine resident at Columbia St. Mary’s; Brahm Vasudev, MD, Fel ’05, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Nephrology) and Nephrology Fellowship Director; Judith Rehm, Program Coordinator in Educational Services; Kathryn Denson, MD, GME ’99, Associate Professor of Medicine (Geriatrics/ Gerontology); and Carley Sauter, MD ’07, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation resident. Present but not pictured are Diane Braza, MD ’87, GME ’93, Associate Professor and Program Director for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; Steven Denson, MD, GME ’00, Associate Professor of Medicine (Geriatrics/Gerontology); Monica Vasudev, MD, GME ’06, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics (Allergy/Immunology); Diane Brown, MS, Program Manager in Educational Services; and Deborah Simpson, PhD, Associate Dean for Educational Support and Evaluation.

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