Intended for healthcare professionals

Student Careers

Interviews with geriatricians

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 29 August 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l4885
  1. Laura Nunez-Mulder, editorial scholar
  1. The BMJ, London
  1. laura.nunez-mulder{at}, @lnm_rugby

Five trainees and consultants talk about the highs and lows of the specialty

Sean Ninan, consultant geriatrician, Leeds Teaching Hospitals

What is the best part of your job?

People who choose geriatric medicine tend to be passionate about high quality care for older people, and improving care. It’s infectious—working with people who enjoy their jobs is a good armour against the stresses of being a doctor. The patients I look after are also great. the stories they tell colour my everyday working life.

What misconceptions would you like to dispel about the care of older adults?

That I only look after patients close to death. The average life expectancy of an 85 year old is six years, and the average life expectancy of a 90 year old is four years—so 50% of people live longer. The human ageing process has a rich variety, and there is scope to build relationships with patients over years.

What advice would you give to a medical student interested in your specialty?

Join the British Geriatrics Society—it’s free for students. Seek out a friendly geriatrician, speak to them about shadowing, and ask what the job entails. Be curious, and speak to older people about their lives when you see them in hospital.

What type of person do you need to be to succeed as a geriatrician?

You need to be flexible, and comfortable with uncertainty. This isn’t a specialty where you follow rules. You need to like things being complex and …

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