The looming shortage of geriatricians, coupled with the rapidly aging population, highlights the importance of exposing future providers from other specialties to the concepts and skills of caring for older adults. 

That is the goal of an online education program developed by faculty at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing and the Department of Internal Medicine at the UC Davis School of Medicine

“Internal medicine physicians will take care of older adults’ common problems no matter what their specialty is. It’s critical for people who practice medicine to know when to refer and how to refer,” says Craig Keenan, the department’s residency director. 

A team of medicine and nursing faculty developed a series of online education modules based on core competencies from the American Geriatrics Society. They are piloting the program with more than 100 residents across the three years of their program. From dementia and mobility to delirium and prescribing medications, the 15-to-20-minute courses provide bite-size portions of geriatric care knowledge that learners can work into their busy schedules. 

“These insights are intended to lead to the integration of concepts and ideas to form a broader framework of analysis ultimately enhancing the learner’s ability to solve complex problems faced by older adults,” says Kathryn Sexson, associate director of education for the School of Nursing’s Family Caregiving Institute

“Most adult learners who look at material while seeing patients are much more likely to retain it rather than randomly doing the module,” Keenan adds. 

Program developers plan to add more topics to their library and roll out the program to additional residents, fellows, students and health system employees. They hope that these modules can augment existing knowledge and act as a resource when common and complex issues arise.