Replacing doctors with pharmacists in geriatrics?

Kevin asks “How to get more medical students interested in geriatrics?” and suggests tuition loan forgiveness. Or rather, the article he links to, does.

My question is, do you *really* need more geriatric doctors?

I’ve opined extensively on pharmacists as prescribers, and I’ve basically concluded that it’s not a bad idea, so long as they’re not making the diagnosis. (Because that’s not part of one’s curriculum in pharmacy school.) With things like the CCGP certification, do you really need doctors who specialize in old people?

I’m inclined to think yes… and no. Surely you need some, but probably not the numbers that have traditionally done so. In fact, most of the CCGPs I know can, and do, run therapeutic circles around the doctors when it comes to managing drug regimens for the elderly. And that’s not meant as an insult to the MDs, it’s simply a fact.

Let the pharmacist deal with adjusting dosages and fixing interactions and managing polypharmacy; let the MD stick to making diagnoses. Clinical pharmacists are generally more interested in the management of drug regimens anyway.

I have a feeling this is the way geriatric medicine is going to mostly go in the near future. I wouldn’t be surprised to see other, select fields do the same thing. Pharmacists are, after all, cheaper than doctors. ;)

[tags]Geriatrics, medicine, aging[/tags]

3 thoughts on “Replacing doctors with pharmacists in geriatrics?

  1. I don’t know about different pharmacy schools, but where i went (almuni 2006)…. we diagnosed and diagnosed some more… to the point where i said why am i diagnosing so much i’m not an MD or a DO! In case, on exams, in lab…. this coming from a school where they pretty much spit on you if you went into retail and most of the teachers THOUGHT they were MDs but i digress.

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