Ageing and life course

Geriatrics and Medical Education

First step: assessing medical school regarding education in geriatrics

Global population ageing is an important challenge and opportunity faced by all countries. In less developed countries, population ageing changes the nature of demands on health care systems which will have to accommodate the needs of older populations while continuing to address other priority health issues such as child and maternal health.

Health care systems in developed countries will also have to adapt as the proportion of their older population continues to increase. In light of worldwide population ageing, the education of tomorrow's medical doctors must include not only geriatrics care but also interdisciplinary approaches.

WHO strongly advocates awareness for training all future medical doctors in the care of older persons. It also promotes the adoption of a life-course approach in the education and training of doctors.

What is WHO doing?

WHO developed a study on Teaching Geriatrics in Medical Education (TeGeMe) - a joint initiative of ALC and the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA) which focussed on the integration of geriatric medicine within medical curriculums worldwide.

The study comprised two phases:

  • TeGeMe I: describe how geriatric issues are covered in medical schools worldwide; and
  • TeGeMe II: assessing the attitudes of medical students towards older persons in four continents.

TeGeMe I

Assessing medical schools regarding education in geriatrics

In an attempt to asses how geriatric medicine is being taught worldwide, ALC devised the Teaching Geriatric in Medical Education Study (TeGeMe I) and invited IFMSA to be a partner in its implementation. The study (1999-2001) involved IFMSA members as well as members from the European Medical Students' Association (EMSA) and the Federation of Scientific Societies of Medical Students in Latin America (FELSOCEM).

The main goal of the TeGeMe I study was to gain insight on if and how ageing issues are being incorporated into medical curriculums worldwide. The methodology includes two questionnaires:

  • A national questionnaire enquiring about the existence of a national medical curriculum/objective and the inclusion of geriatric medicine
  • A local questionnaire assessing geriatric training at medical schools.

A research team was formed to collect and analyse data. It included one national focal point and a local representative of every medical school in each of the 79 participating countries.

The TeGeMe I study was funded by UNFPA and the results were published in Global Survey on Geriatrics in the Medical Curriculum, Keller I, Makipaa A, Kalenscher T, Kalache A, Geneva, World Health Organization, 2002.

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