Medical students’ experience with geriatric patients in a family medicine clerkship

Robert M. Saywell, Brenda S. O’Hara, Terrell W. Zollinger, Nitesh R. Thakker, Jennifer L. Burba, Steven W. Hartman, Michael Q. Graham

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Many medical schools require a family medicine clerkship, yet little is known about the quantity and diversity of the experiences of the students dealing with the medical needs of older patients. This study examines the proportion of geriatric patients and diagnoses seen in a family medicine clerkship. Over a two-year period, 445 students completed 10, 168 encounters with patients age 65 and older, noting their comfort level and responsibilities. Of the 55, 182 patients seen, 10, 168 (18.4%) were encounters with patients age 65and older. Between 20 and 40 percent of the students reported that they were “less than comfortable” with geriatrics and non-geriatrics cases. While overall there appears to be little difference in perceived compentency between geriatric and non-geriatric patients, significantly more students felt “less than comfortable” treating older patients with chronic airway obstruction and respiratory conditions. Overall, there were a few small differences in the students’ experiences between the geriatric and non-geriatric patients. Educational and counseling services were provided in only five percent of the cases. By using a relatively simple, computerized database, areas of need for curricular change can be identified. For example, more experience with patient education and counseling and with respiratory conditions is warranted.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)19-37
    Number of pages19
    JournalGerontology and Geriatrics Education
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Mar 1 2003

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education
    • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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