Dec 1, 2023 - Health

New doctors just aren't that interested in geriatrics

Data: The National Resident Matching Program; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: The National Resident Matching Program; Chart: Axios Visuals

Doctors specializing in care for older adults are increasingly in demand as the country ages — but America's newer physicians aren't that interested in geriatric medicine.

Driving the news: Less than half of 348 post-residency fellowships for geriatric internal medicine filled up in the initial matching process this year, according to new data from the National Resident Matching Program, the nonprofit that oversees placement of physicians in training.

  • The fill rate was even lower for geriatric family medicine fellowships.
  • The fellowships, unlike residencies, are optional training programs typically lasting between 1 and 3 years in a specialized field.

Between the lines: Little exposure to geriatric care during training and poor reimbursement compared to more lucrative specialties may affect young physicians' interest in geriatric medicine, according to NRMP.

  • Though demand for geriatricians is growing, the number of fellows entering geriatrics programs hasn't budged much over the last five years.

Meanwhile, doctors matched into 100% of fellowship spots available in interventional pulmonology, while almost every spot was filled for cardiology, gastroenterology, allergy medicine and hematology-oncology.

  • About 67% of 450 infectious disease fellowships were filled, a roughly 7 percentage point decrease from last year. Matches in the specialty spiked in 2021 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the field has struggled with waning interest for years.
  • About half of 77 pediatric infectious disease spots received a match, making it one of the least-filled specialties.

By the numbers: About 85% of 9,068 positions across 38 subspecialties were filled through this year's matching process.

What's next: Doctors who didn't match into a fellowship can still apply to open positions, so these numbers may grow.

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