Dr Nick Saxton is an ST5 in Geriatric Medicine living and working in the North East of England. He attended the first ‘Geriatrics for Juniors’ conference as a core medical trainee in 2013. He began specialty training in 2015 and joined the Association for Elderly Medicine Education as treasurer in 2016. He tweets @saxton1986
Who are the AEME and what is G4J?
The Association for Elderly Medicine Education (AEME) is an organisation set up by trainee geriatricians in 2012, to provide educational tools and experiences in elderly medicine. The aim was also to attract more trainees into the specialty. You can follow us on Twitter and on Instagram @elderlymeded. AEME’s flagship event is our annual conference, ‘Geriatrics for Juniors’ (G4J), which is now in its fifth year. It’s a one-day conference aimed at foundation doctors, core medical and GP trainees and also specialist nurse practitioners who work with older patients. This year it is being held on 4th November 2017 at the Hilton Hotel Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne.
I remember when I first attended G4J as a core medical trainee in 2013. I had never really considered geriatric medicine as a career. I was focused on respiratory or acute medicine. I did however, like the idea of a one day conference for junior doctors that could improve my knowledge and practice in areas of general medicine. I also knew the geriatricians organising the conference and was interested to find out why they were so enthusiastic and passionate about geriatric medicine. The talks were interesting and practical, the speakers were inspirational and since then I have fallen in love with geriatric medicine.
I have since joined the AEME and we’re excited to bring G4J 2017 back to where it all began, Newcastle upon Tyne. We have a great variety of speakers and topics this year, as well as plenty of other sessions and activities including ‘ask the med reg sessions’ and a drop-in ‘world café’, where junior doctors can meet geriatricians with sub-specialty interests as well as getting advice on career progression and CV writing at the OPMentor stand.
I’d recommend the conference to any junior doctor or nurse practitioner who is interested in working with older patients, or is considering a career in geriatric medicine.
Do we still have a problem with recruitment?
It’s well known that geriatric medicine has had problems with recruitment. Competition ratios for ST3 training had been improving (1.4 applications per post in 2014 to 1.8 in 2016). 2017 however, has seen a fall (to 1.43). Whilst there are more applicants than posts, this unfortunately doesn’t translate into full recruitment – there are numerous regions across the UK that are unable to fully recruit in ST3 training programmes. It’s possible some people apply as a ‘back up’ option. It’s hard to know for certain, but the well-publicised drop in junior doctor morale and uncertainty about the new junior doctor contract may be a factor too.
This should remind us that we have to work even harder to attract talented junior doctors and to promote geriatrics as a specialty. We need to tackle the problems of low morale, uncertainty and fatigue among junior doctors and instil in them a passion and enthusiasm within a specialty that cares for its trainees. After all, our patients are relying on us. The boundaries of what constitutes ‘geriatric medicine’ are rapidly expanding – new sub-specialties are being formed and geriatricians are now working way beyond their traditional habitat. But without enthusiastic, passionate and caring doctors to join our specialty it will be impossible to maintain this momentum.
What else is the AEME up to?
AEME has been kept very busy with a variety of projects. We recently launched our ‘OPMentor’ scheme where junior doctors can make contact with consultant and trainee geriatricians and ask for help and support with applications, CV building, research and QI projects.
It’s important to acknowledge that there are recruitment challenges in other specialties too. We recently published a paper sharing some tips for trainees and senior colleagues, on how to implement initiatives to tackle recruitment problems.
Places are still available for Geriatrics for Juniors 2017 in Newcastle upon Tyne. Please do your bit for recruitment to our specialty by sharing this blog article with any colleagues who you think might be interested in G4J. To register and find out more click here