The aim of the Joan and Stanford Alexander Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine is to foster geriatric education in the health care field as well as the community.

Educational Goals

The Joan and Stanford Alexander Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine has been working closely with other faculty of the medical school to develop a geriatric curriculum for basic service students. The Division also offers electives in many of the sites in Palliative and Geriatric Medicine.

Starting July 2008, a fellowship in Geriatric Medicine began for physicians training in Internal Medicine or Family Practice who wish to become geriatricians. The fellowship is currently a one-year clinical fellowship, which will be expanded in future years to a two-year fellowship to also offer research and clinical education.

Starting July 2012, a fellowship in Hospice and Palliative Medicine began for physicians training in Internal Medicine, Family Practice, Pediatrics, and Internal Medicine/Pediatrics who wish to become palliative care physicians. The fellowship is currently a one-year clinical fellowship.

Houston Geriatric Education Center

The Houston Geriatric Education Center (H-GEC) was funded by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the Department of Health and Human Services. The grant was initially funded in 2007 with renewed funding for five years beginning in 2010. (Grant #UB4HP19058).

The goal of the H-GEC is to provide faculty, students, and practicing healthcare providers with the knowledge and skill to sustain and create healthier communities for vulnerable older people.

The H-GEC has established a collaborative partnership in geriatric education and training with faculty in:

  • UTHealth Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry, Public Health, and Biomedical Informatics
  • Schools of Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy at Texas Woman’s University
  • Schools of Pharmacy, Social Work, Optometry, and Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Houston

The interdisciplinary faculty designs and develops curriculum and educates healthcare students, providers, and faculty and community service providers, such as adult protection staff, local police and sheriff departments, financial planners, elder law attorneys, and voluntary ombudsmen, on the care of vulnerable elders.

Education and training opportunities are offered through:

  • Intensive certificate programs in geriatrics and gerontology for interdisciplinary healthcare providers
  • A faculty development course for Houston Community College faculty who teach in healthcare programs
  • Programs in palliative and end of life care for teams of interdisciplinary healthcare providers in acute care settings
  • Short courses and trainings for healthcare providers, students and faculty and community service providers
  • An annual student competition in which interdisciplinary teams of students from 9 different healthcare disciplines assess frail elders in community settings

Education and training topics may include:

  • Basic care of frail elders
  • Memory issues
  • Dementia
  • Mental health and behavior management
  • Caregiver issues
  • Oral health
  • Medical management
  • Ethics
  • Elder abuse and mistreatment
  • Disaster preparedness

Supplemental Funding Awarded to Houston Geriatric Education Center

In July 2012 the H-GEC was awarded supplemental funding by HRSA to address provide training for doctors, nurses, and other health care providers on recognizing the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and how to manage the disease. The funds were part of President Obama’s fiscal year 2013 budget that provided a $100 million increase for efforts to combat Alzheimer’s disease and included $80 million for research, $4.2 million to improve public awareness of the disease, $4 million to support provider education programs, $10.5 million to invest in caregiver support, and $1.3 million to improve data collection.

In its successful proposal, the H-GEC built upon current programs of providing geriatric education and training to inter-professional practitioners to offer additional and updated information about detection and management of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Geriatric Gems and Palliative Pearls

Geriatric Gems and Palliative Pearls, a product of The Training Excellence in Aging Studies (TEXAS) program that was funded by the D. W. Reynolds Foundation from 2008 through 2013, are brief tidbits of geriatric information.

The goal of the TEXAS program was to strengthen and promote geriatric education for medical students, faculty, and practicing physicians and, ultimately, to create an environment of excellence in geriatric care at UTHealth and throughout the community.

Medical School Programs in Geriatrics

  • Residency Program – Internal Medicine and Family Practice residents rotate through the Geriatrics Consultation Services at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and LBJ Community Hospital. They may also choose a consult/subspecialty elective in geriatrics.
  • Medical Students – Third and fourth year medical students experience Geriatrics as part of their Internal Medicine clerkships. Medical students may do a scholarly concentration in geriatrics throughout their four years of their training or may choose to take a geriatrics Blue Book elective, an optional short course designed to enrich and enhance the medical student’s core curriculum experience.
  • Conversations with Mrs. Porter: A Virtual Patient Continuum of Care Learning Program – The series covers the 21-year relationship of care between geriatrician Dr. Patricia Thompson and her patient, Mrs. Alice Porter. This virtual learning experience is based on the AAMC competencies. It is designed to enhance medical students’ knowledge and skills in the care of older adults. The web-based learning environment provides students the unique opportunity to establish an ongoing relationship with a patient exposing students to the importance of continuity of patient care. As students move through their medical school education, the patient they are responsible for ages; requiring care that is more complex. Each case has a unique focus that targets key geriatric and /or palliative concepts appropriate to the level of the learner that can easily by embedded into existing medical school courses.