Geriatrician Education & Training

To become a geriatrician, students must complete the following education and training requirements:

  • Undergraduate degree (e.g., Bachelor's of Science)
  • Medical degree (e.g., M.D., D.O.; from an accredited medical school)
  • Residency program (3–5 years of training in a general medicine, usually in a hospital or clinic)
  • Medical license (unrestricted, granted by each state)
  • Board certification (e.g., in family medicine, internal medicine; must pass an oral and written examination)
  • Fellowship program (in geriatric medicine or geriatric psychiatry; usually 1–3 years)
  • Certification in geriatric medicine

Students who are interested in geriatric medicine often begin taking courses in the field while in medical school. They may take classes in biology, sociology, psychology, economics, the humanities, and law as it pertains to medicine.

Board Certification for Geriatric Physicians

Following medical school and completion of a residency program, physicians who wish to become geriatricians must be board certified (e.g., by the American Board of Family Medicine [ABFM] or the American Board of Internal Medicine [ABIM]). After receiving board certification, family practitioners or internists must then complete additional training (called a geriatric fellowship) to sub-specialize in geriatrics.

Fellowship programs required to enter the teaching or research field usually are 1 to 2 years long and fellowships to practice clinical geriatrics usually are 3 to 4 years long. Upon successful completion of a geriatric fellowship, physicians are awarded a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Geriatric Medicine.

Geriatric psychiatrists are certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and sub-specialize in geriatric psychiatry. These physicians focus on the evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental and emotional disorders in older adults.

Geriatric physicians and geriatric psychiatrists must participate in continuing medical education (CME) and professional development programs in order to maintain their certification.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 13 Nov 2008

Last Modified: 18 Sep 2015