Gary E. Applebaum, MD
Executive Director of Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care of Maryland
"I find that it's all too easy to forget the daily challenges that both patients and providers face in our system unless you're there and part of it," explains Dr. Applebaum. "And, just as important, seeing patients is something I need to do -- for myself."
Marie A. Bernard, MD
National Institute on Aging
"You can do virtually anything... The doors are wide open. There are so many things you can do in this field." Research has been one of Dr. Marie Bernard's key interests since she decided - after starting her undergraduate career at Bryn Mawr - that her childhood dream of becoming an interpreter at the United Nations was unlikely to become a reality.
Katrina Cannon, MD and Geriatric Fellow
Genesis Family Medical Center
"As I watch my friends, family and the nation age, the need for caring, compassionate and competent geriatricians is critical. Job security is always a bonus, but the reality that my skills as a geriatrician are truly needed is very rewarding." There are many reasons why I chose to complete a fellowship in geriatrics. On a personal level, I've always enjoyed being around older people like my grandparents and neighbors. So for me, specializing in geriatrics on a professional level was a natural fit.
Moussa Sissoko, MD
Boston University Medical Center
"My experiences with my grandparents and other older folks in Senegal definitely contributed to my decision to work in geriatrics. I’m very comfortable with older people. I enjoy talking to them. There’s so much to learn from them; they have had a full life of experiences." Growing up in Senegal in the 1970s, Moussa Sissoko, MD, contracted polio when he was just 18-months-old. He survived despite a dire prognosis, but was left with a pronounced limp--a handicap in a country where the handicapped were particularly vulnerable and often reduced to begging.
Terry Fulmer, PhD, RN
New York University College of Nursing
"I have the same passion today that I had when I started. I can’t imagine anything I’d rather do than care for older patients and teach others to care for older patients." It was her very first experience as a nurse that convinced Terry Fulmer, PhD, RN, that the best part of nursing was caring for older patients. Fresh from Skidmore College, where she earned her BS in Clinical Nursing in 1975, Dr. Fulmer had just started working as a staff nurse at Boston's Beth Israel Hospital, one of Harvard's teaching hospitals.
Irene Moore, MSSW, LISW
University of Cincinnati
"Geriatrics is a wide open field. There’s plenty of room to make your mark in geriatric social work, no matter what venue you choose." One of the many advantages of a career in social work, says Irene Moore, MSW, is that you can pursue social work in such a wide variety of venues - in private practice, hospitals, nursing homes, business, government, research, schools and universities, home care, or a complementary combination of these.
Mandi Sehgal, MD
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
"What I love most about my work are the relationships I establish with patients and their family and the differences I can make in their lives." During her third year of medical school, Mandi Sehgal, MD, told her classmates that she was interested in family medicine -- and got an earful. "You're too smart for that; you should go into radiology," was a typical response. But Dr. Sehgal paid no attention. She'd recently finished a family medicine rotation -- at a rural hospital so tiny that the only living space available to her was a closet-sized room with a bed on casters -- and was sold on the field.
Todd Semla, Pharm D.
Department of Veterans Affairs
"I always liked working with older people and bond with them. Older people always have interesting stories to tell." A Clinical Pharmacy Specialist with the Department of Veterans Affairs, an expert on drug treatment for older adults, and an associate professor in the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, Todd Semla, PharmD, developed an interest in geriatrics for many of the same reasons he was drawn to clinical pharmacy.
Holly L. Stanley, MD
Coordinated Care for Seniors
"I love all the intricate puzzle solving and the advocacy work in geriatrics." Growing up, Holly Stanley, MD, was as comfortable in a hospital as she was in her own home. In fact, the community hospitals where her mother worked were like second homes. "I was raised in small community hospitals," says the 51-year-old Stanley, a native of southwestern Florida who decided at age 4 that she wanted to become a doctor. "My mom, a surgical nurse, was a single parent, so I'd often go to work with her."
Neil S. Wenger, MD
UCLA Dept of Medicine-GIM
"I’ve always loved taking care of the complex patient -- the individual who not only has complex medical issues but whose care also raises complex social and ethical questions." Efforts to measure healthcare quality - with an eye toward improving it - started gaining momentum more than twenty years ago. But early advocates for quality measurement were employers concerned about the increasingly hefty tab for their employees' health coverage.
David B. Reuben, MD, AGSF
UCLA School of Medicine
"I found that I loved geriatrics - it was everything I had hoped for and more." In the 1960s, when David Reuben, MD, was growing up in a series of towns and cities in the Midwest and the South, most parents wanted their kids to become doctors, or, if not doctors, then lawyers, or professionals of one sort or another. Reuben's parents were no different.
Gary J. Kennedy, MD
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
"Often, when you work with older people you stumble into a moment of drama when you’re listening to them tell a story. It’s fine to read history in books, but to talk with someone who’s lived it is precious. That’s one of the joys of geriatric practice." If it weren't for Ben Casey, Dr. Kildare, an eccentric aunt, and a fortuitous research assignment, Gary Kennedy, MD, might never have pursued a career in geriatric psychiatry - and discovered the many rewards of working in the field.
Jerome J. Epplin, MD
Litchfield Family Practice Center
"Caring for older people is something I really enjoy,” he says. “In fact, the more I do it, the more I enjoy it." When Jerome Epplin, MD, started his practice in 1978, he saw patients of all ages, and delivered quite a few of them. But as his practice grew - it now includes six physicians - he focused increasingly on older adults. He stopped delivering babies altogether 10 years ago and older people now make up about 80% of his patients.
Rebecca Elon, MD, MPH AGSF
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
"Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of geriatrics for me is the opportunity to meet the people who are the history of our nation." Accepting the American Geriatrics Society's Clinician of the Year Award in 2007, Rebecca Elon, MD, a geriatrician, quoted the commencement speech Kurt Vonnegut had made at her alma mater, Rice University, a decade earlier.
Marc D. Rothman, MD
Kaiser Permanente - San Francisco
"Geriatrics is a good example of a field where you can both impact the individual before you and the population at large, which is another aspect that got me excited about it in the first place." It's hard for Marc Rothman, MD, to pinpoint exactly what led him to pursue a career in geriatrics. There were too many contributors. For starters, there was the time he spent with his great aunts, great uncles, and paternal grandmother while growing up.
Rebecca Conant, MD
San Francisco Medical Center's Housecalls Program
"House calls make an enormous difference in the lives of patients and their family members. Those of us who make house calls love what we do. It’s really very, very rewarding." To illustrate how critical a house call can be for a homebound elderly patient, Rebecca Conant, MD, director of the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center's Housecalls Program, offers a telling anecdote about one of her patients, who had been hospitalized.
Cheryl L. Phillips, MD
"I was drawn to geriatrics because I wanted to care for a specific group of people -- frail older people -- but I also wanted to be in a place where I could blend that work with administrative and leadership roles. I knew there was not only a huge need for good clinical services for older people, but also an obvious need for physicians to set the quality agenda and become leaders in the field." You could say that Cheryl Phillips, MD, who took the helm as president of the American Geriatrics Society in April, got her start in geriatrics in elementary school.