GERIATRICS IN SCANDINAVIA

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Working as a Geriatrician in Sweden 

In 2007, there were 664 people with specialist certificates in geriatrics in Sweden, and about 450 specialists are estimated to be working within geriatric medicine, while the others mainly work in primary care and internal medicine.

Geriatric medicine in Sweden is a hospital specialty. Today, there are 42 independent geriatric clinics as well as divisions in internal medicine clinics in Sweden. Many of these have acute care wards for an initial investigation of elderly patients, usually with further planning of care, and also wards for the rehabilitation of stroke and osteoporosis-related fractures as well as for palliative care.

Current healthcare studies show a growing demand for geriatricians, and there is a shortage in relation to available positions. Many geriatric clinics have an outpatient unit which is often specialised for, among others, osteoporosis, dementia (memory clinics), stroke or general geriatrics. Private geriatric medicine clinics may only be found in the capital of Sweden, Stockholm, but almost all medical care –and especially geriatric care – in the country is financed publicly. Research in the geriatric field is quite developed and active in Sweden. There are six chairs in geriatric medicine located in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmoe, Linkoping, Uppsala, and Umea. While in Malmo and Gothenburg the research is mainly epidemiology in geriatrics and gerontology, in Umea it is clinical geriatrics (i.e. falls, delirium), while the units in Stockholm, Uppsala and Linkoping focus on dementia research. As previously mentioned, almost all positions are in public universities and county hospitals, with experience in geriatric neurology surely representing an advantage in Sweden.

Working as a Geriatrician in Norway

Geriatrics in Norway also have close connections with other specialities such as psychiatry, primary healthcare, neurology and rehabilitation. As a geriatrician practicing in Norway, you must have a holistic perspective. Geriatric patients do often suffer from several diseases and use many different medicines. The doctor has to consider the broad spectrum of health-related problems in order to provide appropriate help. The doctor must also work concurrently with the patient’s physical, psychological and social situation. For these reasons, it is essential to be collaborative and cooperate with a cross-disciplinary team.

Typical team members are doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. Sometimes a speech therapist and a social worker are also included. Treatment and rehabilitation must go on concurrently. The most common geriatric conditions you will face in Norway include dementia and stroke but also heart diseases (particularly heart failure), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, arthrosis, Parkinson’s disease, osteoporosis and diabetes mellitus. Norwegian geriatric research has improved remarkably both in terms of quality and quantity over the last ten years. Three out of four Norwegian universities have professorships in geriatrics, and a number of doctoral theses have been approved.

The demographic changes going on in the Norwegian population assure that the need for geriatricians will increase steadily in the coming years as the number of geriatricians is still too low.

Working as a Geriatrician in Denmark

 There is an increasing need for geriatricians in Denmark due to the population’s higher average age.

Specialist doctors in geriatrics will work interprofessionally with other healthcare professionals including nurses, social workers, nutritionists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, and geriatric psychiatrists, and will focus on coherent patient pathways both internally at the department but also across sectors, in order to ensure optimal patient treatment and care.