Champion for Improved Perioperative Care for Older Adults: Shelley R. McDonald, DO, PhD, MCG Honored as AGS Clinician of the Year

  • Today, the @AmerGeriatrics announced Shelley R. McDonald, DO, PhD, MCG of @DukeGeriatrics as the 2023 recipient of the AGS Clinician of the Year award. #AGS23

New York (April 25, 2022) — The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) today announced Shelley R. McDonald, DO, PhD, MCG, as 2023 Clinician of the Year. Dr. McDonald, who is an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, will be honored at the 2023 AGS Annual Scientific Meeting (#AGS23) being held in Long Beach, CA, from May 4-6 (preconference day is May 3).

“Our 2023 Clinician of the year, Dr. Shelley McDonald, is a national champion for improved perioperative care of older adults undergoing surgery,” said AGS President G. Michael Harper, MD, AGSF. “She is the Geriatrics Medical Director of the Perioperative Optimization of Senior Health (POSH) program at Duke. In that role, she exemplifies the team-based approach to care that is the hallmark of geriatrics practice, always putting the older person at the center of care with a focus on their goals and needs. An extraordinary geriatrician, she has collaborated with surgical champions to reach across disciplines and specialties to build POSH in a way that is inspiring others to implement POSH at their own institutions.”

A seasoned clinician with a background in research, Dr. McDonald has been a champion for building the evidence base for POSH, seeking out every opportunity to collaborate with Duke investigators to ensure that POSH will become a recognized and reproducible model of care for older adults. This has produced numerous high-profile publications, internal and external grants, and notable outcomes that include shorter lengths of stay, fewer complications, and fewer hospital readmissions. VA funding allowed POSH to be developed at the Durham VA Medical Center. Similar programs have been implemented at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX (by Duke Geriatric fellowship alumni with a Duke surgeon who transitioned there but did not want to leave his POSH experience behind), in Madison, WI and Boston, MA.

Dr. McDonald is an advocate for all who are marginalized. She and the full POSH team address the non-medical factors that influence health outcomes, such as limited health literacy, food insecurity, lack of transportation, financial distress, household stress, or inadequate social connections.  Additionally, she lends her time and expertise to her community through service at the local food banks and has organized first aid stations for annual memory walks for the Alzheimer's Association. An avid gardener and cook, she connects especially well with the people of North Carolina who come from rural communities to seek specialty care and surgery at Duke. These connections build bridges and trust at a time when many people become overwhelmed yet need to understand their options and how to fully participatory in a system that may be out of their comfort zone. 

Dr. McDonald received her undergraduate degree as well as a Master of Clinical Gerontology from Baylor University, her PhD from the University of North Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and her DO from the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed residency training at the Scott & White Hospital/Texas A&M Health Science Center/College of Medicine and was a three-year geriatrics fellow at Duke University Medical Center. 

An AGS member since 1999, Dr. McDonald is active in our Geriatric-Surgical Co-Management Special Interest Group and has mentored many AGS members who wish to emulate POSH at their own institutions. AGS is delighted to honor her with the Clinician of the Year Award in recognition of how she has bought her numerous talents and skills to bear during an exceptional clinical career with a focus on ensuring that we all have access to person-centered, high quality surgical care as we age.


About the American Geriatrics Society
Founded in 1942, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) is a nationwide, not-for-profit society of geriatrics healthcare professionals dedicated to improving the health, independence, and quality of life of older people. Our 6,000+ members include geriatricians, geriatrics nurse practitioners, social workers, family practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, and internists who are pioneers in advanced illness care for older individuals, with a focus on championing interprofessional teams, eliciting personal care goals, and treating older people as whole persons. AGS believes in a just society, one where we all are supported by and able to contribute to communities where ageism, ableism, classism, homophobia, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and other forms of bias and discrimination no longer impact healthcare access, quality, and outcomes for older adults and their caregivers. AGS advocates for policies and programs that support the health, independence, and quality of life of all of us as we age. AGS works across patient careresearchprofessional and public education, and public policy to improve the health, independence, and quality of life of all older people. For more information, visit

About the Health in Aging Foundation
The Health in Aging Foundation is a national non-profit established in 1999 by the American Geriatrics Society to bring the knowledge and expertise of geriatrics healthcare professionals to the public. We are committed to ensuring that people are empowered to advocate for high-quality care by providing them with trustworthy information and reliable resources. Last year, we reached nearly one million people with our resources through We also help nurture current and future geriatrics leaders by supporting opportunities to attend educational events and increase exposure to principles of excellence on caring for older adults. For more information or to support the Foundation's work, visit

About the Clinician of the Year Award
Since 1993, the Clinician of the Year Award has recognized the great contributions of practitioners to delivering quality healthcare for older people and showcases the importance of the geriatrics clinician in our healthcare system. Through these clinicians' efforts, scientific advances are integrated into the practice of geriatrics, resulting in improved well-being and quality-of-life for older people.

About the AGS Annual Scientific Meeting
The AGS Annual Scientific Meeting is the premier educational event in geriatrics, providing the latest information on clinical care, research on aging, and innovative models of care delivery. More than 2,500 nurses, pharmacists, physicians, physician assistants, social workers, long-term care and managed care providers, healthcare administrators, and others will convene in Long Beach, CA, May 4-6, 2023 (pre-conference program on May 3), to advance geriatrics knowledge and skills through state-of-the-art educational sessions and research presentations. For more information, visit

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