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Understanding Geriatric Care

Geriatric medicine is a specialty that focuses on diseases of aging and issues that arise with advanced age. A geriatric doctor is called a geriatrician and usually treats people over the age of 60, understanding the impact of medical conditions and medications on older adults. Because medical care becomes more complex with aging, a geriatrician can explain how different medical conditions impact one another.

Advanced Clinical Training

A geriatrician is a physician who is board-certified in either internal medicine or family medicine and also in geriatrics. The benefit for patients is the geriatrician is both a primary care doctor and geriatric specialist - all in one person.

Our team uses geriatric care principles for those multi-faceted health needs and chronic disease management across the continuum of care. We manage patients at all points of care – including health and wellness, transitions from hospital through rehabilitation and even end of life with hospice and palliative care.

Patient Education Focus

One of the key goals of the Geriatric Program at VCU Health is to educate patients on how to stay healthy through aging successfully. Our team works with patients to make sure they are focused on learning how to live well – by taking care of themselves and avoiding injury or illness through:

  • Addressing behavioral and medical needs  
  • Daily activity
  • Good nutrition
  • Medication management
  • Positive mindfulness
  • Preventing falls
  • Socialization
  • Thinking about end of life wishes

Excellence in House Calls Program

The Division is proud of several successful initiatives including the full accreditation of our House Calls program from The Joint Commission.

VCU House Calls was also approved for participation in the national Independence at Home demonstration program working in collaboration with Medstar Washington Hospital Center and the University of Pennsylvania as the Mid-Atlantic Independence at Home Consortium. Leaders of the Consortium were directly responsible for creating the demonstration through the legislative and regulatory process.

Strength of Geriatric Collaboration

With a strong geriatric program, there should be a wealth of experience and quality of performance due to the collaboration across many areas of care. At VCU Health, we have a close collaboration and strong leadership initiatives with many other areas of care and training including:

  • Allied Health (Physical and Occupational Therapy as well as Health Administration)
  • Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Pharmacy
  • Social Work

Our Geriatric Team Trains More Than 500 Students Annually

The importance of specialized training in geriatric care crosses a wide span of our educational mission. Our geriatrics educational program reaches more than 500 students each year, including:

  • Medical students
  • Nursing students
  • Health administration students
  • Geriatric fellows
  • Internal medicine residents
  • Orthopedic residents
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Social workers
  • Pharmacy students 

VA Medical Center Offers Geriatric Fellowship

At the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center, our geriatric medicine specialists, also called geriatricians, work and teach in the Geriatric Health Care Center. In addition to this outpatient clinic, our specialists also assist in the on-site nursing home care unit, the inpatient palliative care unit and the home-based primary care program. The VA Medical Center also serves as the primary base for the geriatric fellowship so that the fellows have a broad base of experience when they graduate. Eight of our faculty members are graduates from our fellowship program.