Encouraging New Clinical Scientists, Scientist Practitioners and Clinicians to Train in Gerontology
There is a shortage of clinicians and scientists with expertise in geriatrics and gerontology. For example, there is not a single geriatric medicine specialist in the capital city of the province of Saskatchewan, where I live.. Throughout Canada, there is a shortage of psychologists and other clinicians/researchers with special expertise in working with older adults. Although there have been some great initiatives that have been tremendously beneficial in enhancing capacity (e.g., https://agewell-nce.ca/), we need more early career researchers/clinicians to work in this area.
There is great demand. Older adults represent the fastest growing demographic in Canada and in much of the Western world. The growth in the proportion of older adults in society results in increased prevalence of health concerns that disproportionately affect seniors (e.g., painful musculoskeletal conditions, Alzheimer’s Disease). Health professionals without specialized geriatric expertise are often faced with challenges in the assessment and treatment of conditions that frequently affect older adults. For instance, when Alzheimer’s Disease limits ability to communicate verbally, evaluating pain may represent special challenges because patients may not be able to tell us that they are in pain nor verbalize how their pain changes. Specialized and validated assessment approaches are then needed.
Working with older adults can be tremendously rewarding. Aside from fulfilling unmet clinical needs and helping patients faced with limited health care resources, there are great career opportunities as well as funding opportunities for researchers. The American Geriatrics Society reports on its website (dated April 18 2021: Is Geriatrics right for you") that research has demonstrated that geriatricians had the highest satisfaction compared to physicians practicing in any subspecialty.
Gerontology is an interdisciplinary field that brings together diverse experts who study old age. In my own work, I have had opportunities to work with several distinguished gerontology researchers from across Canada and beyond in areas as diverse as nursing, clinical psychology, geriatric psychiatry, geriatric medicine, neuropsychology, biomedical engineering and many others. I encourage new researchers to explore this area as a possible career. In my experience, it does not take very long for new scholars to discover how rewarding and interesting gerontology is.
- Thomas Hadjistavropoulos, Ph.D.
How You Can Help?
Would you like to share your thoughts on our See Pain More Clearly initiative and the use of social media to mobilize knowledge about pain in dementia?
We are looking for people to participate in a study to evaluate the effectiveness of the #SeePainMoreClearly social media initiative to mobilize knowledge about pain in dementia. share your opinion here : https://www.seepainmoreclearly.org/participate-in-our-study
Dr. Hadjistavropoulos is an international leader in the area of pain assessment in dementia and has shown leadership in the promotion of the health sciences at the local, national and international level. He is the Research Chair in Aging and Health, Director of the Centre on Aging and Health and Professor of Psychology at the University of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. He served as the 2007 President of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA).