While no official degree program exists for geriatric psychiatry, there is fellowship training for physicians. Fellowships offer a way for these professionals to develop the skills needed to treat elderly patients and are typically available at medical schools that have affiliations with teaching hospitals and clinics.
Applicants must have completed a medical school program at an accredited institution and also a residency program in psychiatry. Many programs also require applicants to have a license to practice medicine or at least be eligible for a license.
Seminars and workshops are often included in program coursework. Additionally, fellowships have students work in out-patient and in-patient clinics, nursing homes, memory disorder clinics, and veteran's hospitals under the supervision of medical school faculty. Programs generally last 1-2 years.
Ten-year certifications are available to geriatric psychiatrists who complete fellowship programs, pass an examination and participate in continuing education programs.
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Fellowship Programs in Geriatric Psychiatry
Typical fellowship programs provide training and education primarily by having fellows go on rounds with faculty to diagnose and treat patients. Geriatric psychiatry topics may include:
- Theories of aging
- Geriatric medicine
- Syndromes and treatments in aging
- Aging and dementia
- Biologic treatment
- Memory disorders
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 15% job growth for psychiatrists from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than the average for all occupations (www.bls.gov). The American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, a professional association, said there is a growing need for medical professionals to treat aging-related mental disorders (www.aagponline.org). The average salary for a psychiatrist was $193,680 as of May 2015, per the BLS.
Certification and Continuing Education
The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, a member of the American Board of Medical Specialties, is the board certification agency for psychiatrists. The certification requirements for geriatric psychiatrists include one year of specialized training beyond residency, such as a fellowship. Also, candidates for certification must pass an exam.
Certification lasts for ten years, and must be renewed by showing participation in continuing education opportunities, also called maintenance of certification. The American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry offers continuing education conferences and materials, as well as career information and a scholarly journal.
Since no official degree programs exist for geriatric psychiatry, post-graduate fellowships are the most common avenue for physicians interested in this area. Geriatric psychiatrists can work in a number of environments, and certification is available from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.