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Jane F. Potter, MD
Jane F. Potter, MD
Q: Your new study says we're in a “crisis situation” regarding physician specialists and caregivers for the elderly. What do you mean by that?

A: There have been a declining number of physicians entering primary care disciplines, a growth in the expertise needed for geriatric care and an increasingly older population. There are disincentives, frankly, to seeking an elder care career: an additional year or two of (physician) training, and reimbursement for physicians, and also nurses, that has not kept up with other areas of medicine. 

Q: What can be done?

A: There has to be a turnaround in structure. We need to more fully utilize mid-level providers, like nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

Q: But how do you get people interested?

A: We need incentives to bring people into the workforce – (college) loan forgiveness, for example, if you work in the field for  three or five years.

Q:  What about curriculum?

A: We also need to make sure all training programs, from nurse assistants to nurse practitioners, as well as surgeons, properly teach giving care to older individuals.

Q: Aren't some of these staffing shortage fears a bit premature?

A: It's already hitting crisis proportions and will just get worse from here.
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