The UNM Division of Geriatrics, within the UNM School of Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine, recently received a $1-million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to strengthen physicians’ geriatrics training. The grant was one of ten awarded nationally by the foundation.

“The Reynolds Foundation has now committed almost $90 million under this initiative with the goal of improving the quality of health care for elderly people across America by preparing physicians and other health care providers to address their special needs,” said Fred W. Smith, chairman of the Foundation’s board of trustees.

The awards were limited to institutions that have already demonstrated success in geriatrics physician training. The current awards represent the new phase of grantmaking under the Foundation’s Aging and Quality of Life program. This new initiative was designed to support additional ways to fill the continued need to train physicians in the care of older patients and reward the hard work and accomplishments of successful grantees from the first two cohorts that have already completed their initial projects.

The Aging and Quality of Life program was conceived by the Foundation in response to a growing consensus that physicians lack adequate training to meet the increasing needs of the frail elderly patient. Such patients typically suffer from multiple, interactive physical and psychosocial conditions – both acute and chronic – that compromise their capacity to function in daily life and lessen their independence. This new set of ten grants is referred to as “Next Steps in Physicians’ Training in Geriatrics” because eligibility was restricted to those medical schools that had already successfully completed Foundation-funded projects aimed at preparing physicians to care for frail older people.

The Next Steps call for proposals stipulated that programs focus on one of two areas of interest:

• geriatrics training for physicians who are surgical and medical specialists or hospitalists, or

• improving the ability of physicians to work with other health disciplines in teams to provide better care for older patients.

The first focus area is an acknowledgement that geriatricians continue to be in short supply and that surgical and medical specialists must carry considerable responsibility for future geriatric care. The second focus on interdisciplinary team care – sometimes referred to as a “medical home”—is an approach to providing comprehensive primary care that facilitates partnerships between individual patients and their various health care providers, and when appropriate, the patient’s family. Interdisciplinary team-coordinated medical care and medical homes are recognized as a way to better identify, assess, manage and prevent older individuals’ overlapping acute and chronic medical and psychosocial problems. “

“We have watched each cohort of grantees make greater and greater strides in geriatrics medical education. It is important to our Trustees that we further advance geriatrics in medical education and reward good work. ” said Smith.

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, it has committed over $210 million nationwide to its Aging and Quality of Life program.

 


Contact: Cindy Foster, 272-3322