Doctors in geriatric medicine (GM) focus on the clinical, preventive, remedial and social aspects of illness in older people.
This page provides useful information on the nature of the work, the common procedures/interventions, sub-specialties and other roles that may interest you.
Nature of the work
Geriatrics requires expertise in:
- assessment which is related to the atypical presentation of illness in elderly patients
- compassionate patient care
- rehabilitation in order to minimise the effect of illness on the patient’s functional ability
- working effectively within a multidisciplinary team of health professionals and other professionals to meet patients’ additional requirements for social support
- promotion of better health in old age
Geriatrics is rapidly evolving into both a hospital-based specialty and a specialty concerned with community care. Some specialists have commitments in both primary and secondary care settings and many geriatricians develop one or more special interests such as the management of stroke or Parkinson’s disease.
Geriatricians treat conditions associated with ageing such as:
- atherosclerosis (causing heart attacks and stroke)
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- falls and syncope (fainting)
- Parkinson’s disease
- continence care
- dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease, strokes and other diseases
- delirium and other mental health problems
- tilt-table sessions
- gait assessment
- gastrointestinal endoscopy
- joint injections
- pre-operative assessments
Many geriatricians develop sub-specialty interests such as:
Want to learn more?
Find out more about:
- the working life of someone in geriatric medicine
- the entry requirements and training and development
- a first-hand account of life in geriatric medicine
- Pay and conditions Expand / Collapse
This section provides useful information about the pay for junior doctors (doctors in training), specialty doctors, consultants and general practitioners.
NHS Employers provides useful advice and guidance on all NHS pay, contracts terms and conditions.
Medical staff working in private sector hospitals, the armed services or abroad will be paid on different scales.
- Where the role can lead Expand / Collapse
Read about consultant and non-consultant roles in geriatric medicine, flexible working and about wider opportunities.
Managerial opportunities for consultants include:
- clinical lead - lead NHS consultant for the team
- clinical director - lead NHS consultant for the department
- medical director - lead NHS consultant for the Trust
Most NHS consultants will be involved with clinical and educational supervision of junior doctors.
Here are some examples of education and training opportunities:
- director of medical education - the NHS consultant appointed to the hospital board who is responsible for the postgraduate medical training in a hospital. They work with the postgraduate dean to make sure training meets GMC standards.
- training programme director - the NHS consultant overseeing the education of the local cohort of trainee doctors eg foundation training programme director. This role will be working within the LETB/deanery
- associate dean - the NHS consultant responsible for management of the entirety of a training programme. This role will be also be working within the LETB/deanery
SAS doctor roles
There are also opportunities to work at non-consultant level, for example as a SAS (Specialist and Associate Specialist) doctor. SAS doctors are non-training roles where the doctor has at least four years of postgraduate training, two of those being in a relevant specialty. Find out more about SAS doctor roles.
Other non-training grade roles
These roles include:
- trust grade
- clinical fellows
If you have trained on an academic geriatric medicine pathway or are interested in research there are opportunities in academic medicine.
For those with a particular interest in research, you may wish to consider an academic career in geriatric medicine. Whilst not essential, some doctors start their career with an Academic Foundation post. This enables them to develop skills in research and teaching alongside the basic competences in the foundation curriculum.
Entry into an academic career would usually start with an Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF) and may progress to a Clinical Lectureship (CL). Alternatively some trainees that begin with an ACF post then continue as an ST trainee on the clinical programme post-ST4.
Applications for entry into Academic Clinical Fellow posts are coordinated by the National Institute for Health Research Trainees Coordinating Centre (NIHRTCC).
There are also numerous opportunities for trainees to undertake research outside of the ACF/CL route, as part of planned time out of their training programme. Find out more about academic medicine.
The Clinical Research Network (CRN) actively encourages all doctors to take part in clinical research.
There are lots of opportunities for teaching and examining because geriatricians often have core clinical skills required of all doctors. Many are involved in research towards a degree, or as part of a structured research programme, although getting funding for clinical research can be challenging.
The specialty is developing considerably, with many geriatricians specialising in stroke or acute medicine. In the UK it is the largest of the medical specialties, and increasingly more time is spent in special interests. Some specialists work predominantly in the community and are employed directly by primary care trusts (PCTs) rather than in the acute hospital setting. There are many staff and associate specialist grade doctors in this field of medicine working in areas such as community or day hospitals. Many general practitioners develop skills in geriatric medicine which they use in their day-to-day practice or perhaps in providing medical services to nursing and residential home care.
- Job market and vacancies Expand / Collapse
This section provides useful information about the availability of jobs, finding vacancies and where to find out more.
Job market information
Geriatric medicine is one of the largest branches of general medicine. Geriatric medicine had 1,233 consultants and 1,010 medical registrars in England (NHS Digital 2016). Women make up 39% of the consultant workforce, and 62% of higher specialty trainees in the UK (2014-15 RCP census, 2016).
In 2012-13, the sixth highest number of consultant appointments were made in geriatric medicine (26 in total) although this amounted to only half the attempted appointments due to no applicants at all or a lack of suitable candidates.
The expansion of acute medicine is a priority for the NHS. However, geriatric medicine failed to fill half of available consultant posts in 2011 mainly due to a lack of applicants. With an ageing population, pressure on secondary care services is likely to continue (Source: BMA 2011 census)
The competition ratio for Core Medical Training (CT1), the first stage in the training (post-foundation), in 2015 was 1.7 (NHS Specialty Training, 2015).
The ratio of applicants to ST3 posts in 2015 was 1.7 (293 applicants for 154 NTN and 17 LAT posts) (JRCPTB, 2015).
On this section we have information for England only. For information regarding Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland please click on the links below.
Where to look for vacancies
All trainees apply through the online application system Oriel. You will be able to register for training, view all vacancies, apply, book interviews and assessment centres, and manage offers made to you.
Local education and training boards (LETBs)/deaneries will have details of training vacancies. Not all LETBs/deaneries will offer new training posts in all specialties in all years.
All jobs will be advertised on the NHS Jobs website.
The BMJ Careers website also advertises vacancies.
- Further information Expand / Collapse