Geriatric Psychiatry Degree Program Overviews

Examine the educational programs that are related to geriatric psychiatry. Read on for educational prerequisites, program coursework and employment outlook statistics.

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Essential Information

Geriatric psychiatry is a sub-specialty that focuses on the physical problems of aging that affect the mind, such as dementia, mood disorders and Alzheimer's disease. There is no degree program in geriatric psychiatry. Rather, there is fellowship training for medical school graduates who have completed residency programs in psychiatry and are eligible for licenses. Fellowships offer a way for them to develop skills in a specialization area such as geriatric psychiatry. A few fellowship spots typically are available at medical schools that have affiliations with teaching hospitals and clinics.

Medical schools offer fellows a chance to treat the aging population while learning skills to attain certification. Ten-year certifications are available to geriatric psychiatrists who complete fellowship programs, pass an examination and participate in continuing education programs. Fellowship programs usually last 1-2 years, and involve the fellows going on rounds to treat patients under the supervision of medical school faculty. Many of the programs have fellowship student's work in out-patient and in-patient clinics, nursing homes, memory disorder clinics and veterans' hospitals.

Education Prerequisites

Applicants for fellowships 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.

Program Coursework

Typical fellowship programs provide training and education primarily by having fellows go on rounds with faculty to diagnose and treat patients. Research projects are also usually included, as are occasional seminars and workshops. Geriatric psychiatry topics may include:

  • Theories of aging
  • Geriatric medicine
  • Syndromes and treatments in aging
  • Aging and dementia
  • Biologic treatment
  • Memory disorders
  • The effect of long-term care

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes psychiatrists with physicians and surgeons, and has predicted a 24% job growth for the entire group from 2010 to 2020, which is 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 $177,520 in 2012, 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.

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