Precious GEMSS – Future jewels in the Crown of Geriatric Medicine?

A group of medical students at the University of Aberdeen have formed what is believed to be Europe’s first undergraduate medical society for the promotion of geriatric medicine and quality care for older people.GEMMS logo

The Geriatric Medicine Student Society (GEMSS) is a forum for students with a special interest in care of the elderly and its main aims are to:

  • Provide members with further educational opportunities in the care of older people
  • Promote both geriatric medicine as a career and the improvement of standards of care of older people across all medical specialties
  • Offer opportunities to interact and learn from older people in a number of community and healthcare settings.
  • Promote research about efficacy of services and treatments available for older people

GEMSS founder and president Rebecca Irwin, a 3rd year student on the MB ChB course, was inspired by positive experiences in her early undergraduate training and her experience of working in a care home. GEMSS has a very able and enthusiastic committee and already boasts over 120 student members. A number of educational seminars and a befriending scheme are planned. The first event marking the official launch of the society on 11th December2013 was well attended and included an inaugural talk by British Geriatrics Society president, Professor Paul Knight.  The society has since hosted a ‘Tommy on Tour’ event, highlighting the challenges for those who care for people with dementia.

Dr Roy Soiza, consultant geriatrician with NHS Grampian and clinical lead for GEMSS, said,

“The birth of GEMSS is hugely significant because geriatric medicine has historically been relatively unpopular with medical students. There are multiple reasons for this but it is largely related to the very challenging and complex nature of effectively treating frail older people with multiple comorbidities. This can be off-putting to those early on in their training, who might think it a lost cause to treat frail elderly individuals. Given our rapidly ageing population, it is imperative that we develop a healthcare workforce that has the right attitude and skills in dealing with older people. It is hugely encouraging that the University has so many students that already see that, far from being hopeless, good quality and effective care of older people is crucial to the heath service and society as a whole.”

The establishment of GEMSS is one of a number of exciting developments in geriatric medicine in Aberdeen. A brand new Geriatric Assessment Unit in the newly built Emergency Care Centre at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary provides arguably the best set-up in Scotland for the delivery of early comprehensive geriatric assessment. It is already winning acclaim for benefiting patients, students and trainees alike. The new Academic Centre for Applied Clinical and Translational Research into Ageing (ACTRA) led by newly appointed Chair Prof Phyo Myint is providing GEMSS students with plenty of opportunity to become involved with relevant clinical research into ageing.

For more information on GEMSS, please contact Rebecca Irwin or GEMSS secretary Jenni Galloway.

1 thought on “Precious GEMSS – Future jewels in the Crown of Geriatric Medicine?

  1. Hope springs eternal for elderly re t GP ‘s , including me you all sound so enthusiastic
    would some of you consider moving to S Yorkshire .Please.

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