UMMS to develop collaborative program in orthopedics and geriatrics

September 4, 2007

WORCESTER, Mass.To support joint efforts aimed at enhancing health care services for elderly patients, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) has awarded a two-year, $40,000 Geriatrics Education for Specialty Residents grant to David C. Ayers, MD, the Arthur M. Pappas, MD, Chair in Orthopedics and professor of orthopedics and physical rehabilitation at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS), and his colleagues Jerry H. Gurwitz, MD, chief of the division of geriatric medicine and professor of medicine and family medicine and community health, and Sarah M. McGee, MD, MPH, director of educational programs in the division of geriatric medicine.

The Geriatrics Education for Specialty Residents grants, which are part of the AGS Geriatrics-for-Specialists initiative, support collaborations between the geriatrics faculty and surgical and related medical specialty faculty at medical schools and hospitals throughout the country. Since their inception in 2001, the grants have been funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation. Recently, the Foundation presented the AGS with $5.08 million, which will fund the grants for the next four years and will allow the AGS to more than double the funding given in previous years.

            “We're extremely pleased to be able to make these awards to a greater number of residency programs for initiatives that offer great promise for improving specialty care for older people,” said AGS President Todd Semla, PharmD.

            Recipients of one of 25 such grants nationally, Drs. Ayers, Gurwitz and McGee will develop and implement a collaborative program with the Department of Orthopedics and the Division of Geriatric Medicine to improve the amount and quality of education in the geriatrics-related aspects of orthopedics. “As the number of elders in the U.S. increases, so will the demand for orthopedic care for this special population,” said Ayers. “The educational partnership between the Orthopedic Surgery residency training program and the Division of Geriatric Medicine will improve awareness of common geriatric syndromes in older adults in perioperative situations.”

Nearly 30 percent of orthopedic surgical procedures and 75 percent of all joint replacements are performed on people 65 years or older. It is estimated that by the year 2020, roughly 20 percent of the population will be 65 or older, and approximately 80 percent of elders will experience musculoskeletal problems. These trends require future orthopedic surgeons to be well-trained in the principles and practice of geriatric medicine. “We are aware of the expected growth of the aging population, and how the orthopedic needs of older adults are often complicated by complex medical, functional and psychosocial issues,” said Ayers. “Recognizing these important challenges, it is absolutely essential to assure broad competency of our orthopedic residents in caring for the older patient population.”

            The program will focus on enhancing the residents’ knowledge and skills in the principles of geriatric medicine as they relate to the care of older orthopedics patients.  To accomplish these tasks, Ayers, Gurwitz and McGee will organize and implement multidisciplinary symposia, initiate resident conferences throughout the year and establish collaborative bedside rounds. “We are very pleased to be part of the American Geriatric Society’s educational initiative, which will strengthen critical collaboration between the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and the Division of Geriatric Medicine,” said Gurwitz. “This endeavor will serve as a model for building additional collaborative educational and clinical activities between the Division and the other surgical and medical specialties.”

Other UMMS participants in the project include Zahra S. Sheikh, MD, assistant professor of medicine; Mary Ellen Keough, MPH, instructor in family medicine and community health; and Patricia Franklin, MD, MBA, MPH, associate professor of orthopedics & physical rehabilitation and family medicine & community health.


About the American Geriatrics Society
Founded in 1942, the American Geriatrics Society ( is a nationwide, not-for-profit association of geriatrics health care professionals dedicated to improving the health, independence, and quality of life of all older people. The Society supports this mission through activities in clinical practice, professional and public education, research, and public policy. With an active membership of over 6,700 health care professionals, the Society has become a pivotal force in shaping attitudes, policies, and practices in geriatric medicine.

About the University of Massachusetts Medical School
The University of Massachusetts Medical School is one of the fastest growing medical schools in the country, attracting more than $174 million in research funding annually.  A perennial top finisher in the annual US News & World Report ranking of primary care medical schools, UMMS comprises a medical school, graduate school of nursing, graduate school of biomedical sciences and an active research enterprise, and is a leader in health sciences education, research and public service.  In 1998, the UMMS system of hospitals and clinics merged with Memorial Health Care to form UMass Memorial Health Care, the clinical partner of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.



Contact: Nicole Soucy, 508-856-2000