30,000 geriatricians will be needed by 2030
To get there, we need to train 1,600 geriatricians per year for the next 12 years
The Bipartisan Geriatrics Workforce Improvement Act would help us reach that goal
Click HERE to read Senator Collins’ remarks on the Senate floor
Click HERE to watch Senator Collins’ remarks on the Senate floor
Note to assignment editors and news directors: Click HERE for a high-resolution video of Senator Collins’ remarks
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee, introduced the Geriatrics Workforce Improvement Act, bipartisan legislation to increase the number of geriatric health professionals and direct service workers to support our aging population. This bill would reauthorize the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) at $45 million per year over the next five years and also reinstate the Geriatrics Academic Career Awards program (GACA) at $6 million per year. Earlier this afternoon, Senator Collins delivered remarks from the Senate floor today urging her colleagues to support the bill.
“For Maine, with an aging population of more than a quarter million Mainers over the age of 65, and only 40 geriatricians, there is an acute need to quickly train more geriatric health professionals and direct service workers to meet the growing demand,” said Chairman Collins. “I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation that would ensure geriatric education for our current workforce, while optimizing resources to bolster academic careers in geriatrics, helping to attract the best and the brightest into the field. Together, GWEP and GACA would develop a high-quality geriatric workforce ready to provide care for Americans as we grow older.”
"There continues to be severe shortages of a wide range of health care professionals and caregivers trained in the provision of specialized geriatric care. No where is this scarcity in the health services workforce more apparent than in small towns and rural communities all across America. Senator Collins' extraordinary leadership in advancing The Geriatrics Workforce Improvement Act stands to help rectify this situation by responding to the call for such services by millions of aging Americans," said Lenard Kaye, Director of the University of Maine Center on Aging.
The number of Americans age 65 and older is growing rapidly. Maine is reaching an aging milestone faster than other states – by 2020, the number of Maine seniors is projected to outnumber children. This is 15 years ahead of the national projected date of 2035, at which point the number of Americans 65 and older will outnumber those under age 18 for the first time in U.S. history.
Fewer than 7,300 of our nation’s nearly one million physicians are currently board-certified geriatricians. The United States needs to train 1,600 geriatricians per year over the next 12 years to reach the 30,000 geriatricians that will be needed by 2030. We must also significantly increase the number of health professionals and direct service workers trained to care for older adults.
GWEP is the only federally funded program that exists to educate and train health care professionals in geriatrics. Today there are 44 GWEPs in 29 states, which include 25 schools of medicine, ten schools of nursing, five health care facilities, two schools of allied health, a school of social work, and a certified nurse assistant program. GWEP programs help integrate geriatrics into primary care, train providers to address the needs of older adults, deliver community-based programs, and provide Alzheimer’s disease education.
GACA programs, which were established in 1998, increase the number of faculty engaged in geriatric education by supporting health care professionals’ transition from clinical practice to academic roles. Following a restructuring of the geriatric workforce program, GACA has gone unfunded since 2015.
The Geriatrics Workforce Improvement Act is supported by leading organizations in gerontology and geriatrics, including the Eldercare Workforce Alliance, the American Geriatrics Society, the Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, and the National Association of Geriatric Education Centers.