In 2001, the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine was one of the early recipients of a Donald W. Reynolds grant to enhance geriatrics education at Weill Cornell Medical College. This award allowed faculty the time to focus on stimulating educational experiences using creative and innovative teaching methods. Some of the core topics covered in the geriatrics curriculum include: effective communication between physicians and older adults; the importance of avoiding ageism in the medical encounter; how assessing function can enhance independence and improve quality of life; the impact of chronic illness on the individual and their family; and living well with disability and the importance of practicing humanistic medicine (transitional care, interdisciplinary team, and geropharmacology).
Many of our faculty act as formal and informal mentors to medical students and actively provide guidance to those interested in pursuing geriatrics and palliative care.
Geriatric Medicine Elective
Fourth-year medical students have an opportunity to interact with older adults in a variety of settings, including: in the Hospital's Acute Care for Elders Unit, through our Consultation Service, at The Wright Center on Aging (ambulatory practice), in home environments via our House Call program, and at a nursing home. Additional areas that may be explored include geriatric psychiatry, neuropsychiatric testing, rehabilitation medicine, palliative medicine and hospice. The student will participate in Geriatrics Team meetings and will be expected to prepare and deliver a lecture to the geriatrics faculty and staff. We attempt to individualize the experience for the student as much as possible. Please note that this elective is only open to students from Weill Cornell Medical College and former MSTAR/Adelman Scholars.
Longitudinal Experience to Advance Patient Care (LEAP)
A collaborative effort with faculty from a variety of different departments and disciplines creates opportunities for students to be paired with patients. They follow these patients throughout their entire four years in medical school. The LEAP program offers students an opportunity to conduct home visits on patients of all ages, often accompanied by geriatric faculty member. The goals of this course include: a close pairing of basic science and clinical experience; seeing disease processes evolve over time; learning the art of relationship building with patients and colleagues; and appreciation of the complexities and challenges patients face within the health care system.
The Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine plays an important role in the LEAP curriculum development and clinical mentoring of students as the four-year process unfolds. Home visit program students have the opportunity to spend an afternoon with geriatric faculty as they make their scheduled home visits together.
In their foundational science courses, first- and second-year medical students receive lectures on topics such as communication and the older patient, functional assessment, and chronic disease management. During their Primary Care Clerkship, students are provided with didactic sessions on such areas as dementia, urinary incontinence, falls, and elder abuse and neglect.
Summer Research Programs
Each summer, selected Weill Cornell medical students (typically students just completing their first-year of medical school training at WCMC) experience an enriching experience in aging-related research, didactics, and clinical experiences, under the mentorship of top experts in the field, experts that they might not otherwise interact with during their medical school training. These student scholars are selected and funded by the Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) program, administered by the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR), and funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and other organizations, or the Henry Adelman Fund for Medical Student Education in Geriatrics and the generous support of friends of the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine. The Adelman Scholarship was created to honor the memory of Henry Adelman, father of Ronald Adelman, MD, Professor of Clinical Medicine and Co-Chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Weill Cornell. MSTAR awardees may receive anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks of funding, as determined by the student and his/her research mentor. Adelman Scholars receive funding for an 8-week period.
Special Interest in Aging
Established in 1999, the Geriatric Interest Group (GIG) is an enthusiastic group of medical students who are interested in the aging population for a variety of reasons. The students in GIG recognize that older adults are a diverse and interesting group of people who lead meaningful lives and that the population is becoming increasingly older with people age 85 years and older comprising the fastest growing segment of the total US population. GIG meets at various points throughout the academic year to discuss topics related to aging.
Areas of Concentration
In the Geriatric Medicine concentration, students are offered a broad exposure to the field of Geriatrics through core didactic lectures as well as participation in a variety of clinical experiences. The demographic imperative of a rapidly aging population has made Geriatric Medicine an increasingly important area of study. Geriatrics embraces the medical and psychosocial issues challenging older adults with particular focus on function and maximizing quality of life while living with chronic illness. Specific areas of study may include: neurodegenerative disorders, rehabilitation medicine, psychiatry, pharmacology and palliative medicine. Exposure to the interdisciplinary approach to patient care that incorporates social work, OT, PT, psychiatry and other makes Geriatrics a unique learning experience for students.
In the Palliative Medicine concentration, students receive training that encompasses care didactics, experiential teaching activities and clinical exposure, as well as a scholarly project in Palliative Medicine that culminates in a peer-reviewed dissemination. This AOC will prepare students to be leaders in palliative care throughout the continuum. Ultimately, nurturing skills in palliative care is essential for all physicians, whatever subspecialty they practice. Students will learn to understand the conceptual framework of palliative care throughout the continuum of illness, to apply palliative care principles by participating in experiential educational activities and classical exposures with structured feedback, and to apply research methodology while developing a structured research project in palliative medicine resulting in an oral and/or written dissemination at the local, regional or national level.