Old age psychiatry-meeting the need through innovative undergraduate training
An understanding of old age psychiatry is increasingly becoming an essential part of the skills base required for doctors in a range of specialties and not limited to psychiatrists and geriatricians. Worldwide the ageing population is growing and there are increasing demands on GP's, Emergency Departments, and inpatient units across the spectrum of medicine to provide management of mental health issues in older patients. The impact of mental health on physical health is well documented and rehabilitation and recovery following surgical procedures, stroke, as well as optimum management of chronic disease is greatly impeded in patients with depression. Access to specialist old age psychiatrists is limited in many areas and we believe that all doctors need some knowledge and understanding of this discipline. Currently most training in this domain takes place in the postgraduate and specialist training rotations and then is limited mainly to psychiatrists and some geriatricians. We review undergraduate training in this growing area of need, looking at the current curriculum coverage for medical students. We discuss the advantages of undergraduate training and argue that coverage of this field during the specialist training rotations is too late.