Member Profiles


Belinda Setters, MD, MS, FACP, AGSF

Chief, Geriatrics & Extended Care

Veterans Administration

Physician Member

I knew I wanted to be a geriatrician the first time I realized there was such a thing. I was in my second year of medical school when a tall, quiet, and rather unassuming doctor brought a patient to help demonstrate movement disorders in older patients. He and the patient were both amazing. I just could not get enough of this idea that a doctor could only take care of older patients. It was truly inspiring. Now, like most geriatricians, I really came to this point much earlier in life though. I was fortunate to have been raised close to my grandparents, whom I adored. They were wonderfully kind, compassionate country folks who never met a stranger and often fed numerous friends and family on any given night. They worked hard, even into retirement years, but always had time for us grandkids. And we knew it. I have such fond memories of those times and also of the gaggle of “adopted” grandparents with whom I was blessed. These older adults were close family friends who lived in our small community and helped care for my brother and me when we were younger. They also had lasting impacts on both of our lives. Given this immensely rich experience, how could I not be a geriatrician? In the classic flow through medical school rotations, I tinkered with the excitement of OB deliveries, the adrenaline of the ED, and the intrigue of infectious diseases, but I always quickly came back to geriatrics. It was simply meant to be. And when I had the opportunity as a fourth year student to rotate on geriatrics, it sealed the deal. I had found my home. 

And just as I was meant to be a geriatrician, I was also meant to be a member of AGS. When I was discovering my love of geriatrics in residency, I found a medical society comprised entirely of professionals who care for older adults! How amazing was this? I felt like I was on top of the world when I joined AGS at the end of my residency. I was so excited to go into my fellowship as a “member” of this elite group of providers who shared my passion. How could this get any better? I was convinced I had made it. This was the definition of success. When I landed my first job as an academic geriatrician hired to build a hospital program (my personal passion!), I discovered an even bigger connection with the society. I met colleagues who were having the same struggles I was: trying to secure program support, finding mentors for projects and grants, helping with teaching slides for sudden fill-in lectures, and developing handouts for families in need of more information about dementia. I found CME opportunities focused on just what I wanted to learn, board prep materials, white papers, and more. And then I got hooked on the meetings. I met people who really, truly got me. People who think like I do, who have the same passion, commitment, and dedication to advancing the care of older adults as I do, and who love to talk about how we can make the healthcare system better for older adults everywhere. I’ve had the opportunity to write chapters and papers, work on projects and advance programs, start pilots, etc. because I met these amazing peers. And when I needed to shift jobs, I found mentors who helped guide me through the decision process and show me what a wide breadth the field of geriatrics has to offer. I cannot imagine my career without AGS. It’s true. This group of wonderful professionals has enriched my career for the better. And I look forward to each annual meeting as a kind of family reunion sans cool shirts with family pictures, although maybe that is an idea for a future meeting. In the meantime, I think my wife will keep telling people in May that I’ll be out of town for “Geri-palooza”. 


Lauren Ferrante, MD, MHS

Assistant Professor of Medicine

Yale School of Medicine

Physician Member

'I’ve wanted to be a doctor ever since I was a little kid. It sounds cliché, I know, but my motivation was that I just wanted to help people. Although I didn’t start my career with an interest in aging, it developed when I was a neuroscience major in college studying Alzheimer’s disease. I found the topic fascinating and worked in Alzheimer’s labs during my undergrad years and before medical school.

Then, when I became an internal medicine resident at Columbia early in my fellowship, I noticed how many older adults there were in the ICU. I became interested in how certain geriatric factors, like frailty and functional dependence, affected the outcomes of these patients—especially those who survived their ICU stay. 

I realized that many of them were going home with low levels of physical function, and I hated seeing that happen. I wanted to understand how we can make sure that we’re helping older adults to stay independent and live their lives in their communities, even if they’ve been through an illness that put them in the ICU.

What I like best about my work is that, whether I’m doing research or administering clinical care in the ICU, it all has a unified goal: helping people to function better and preserve their quality of life after they’ve been in the ICU. I love that feeling of being able to help people in ways that matter to them. 

For me, the AGS has been an amazing resource over the years. I joined at the very beginning of my career, when I started my geriatrics fellowship in 2013. The AGS provides a forum for specialists of all different backgrounds who are interested in aging to come together—and that community has been an important part of my career development. 

I now co-chair AGS’ sub-specialty section, which I joined in my early days as an AGS member The entire AGS group was very welcoming to me. That hospitality is  so important  to aging-focused specialists like me, because you need to be part of the geriatrics community when you’re trying to raise the visibility of geriatrics and aging in your specialty.

Another great reason to be an AGS member is the Annual Scientific Meeting! Although it was held virtually this year, the AGS staff planned really well for it,  pre-recording many of the sessions. The diverse format preserved the excitement of meeting in person. We’re all looking forward now to finally meeting in one place next year in Orlando!.

When I’m not working, I go on a daily run, and I spent time with my two wonderful children, ages five and seven, and my wonderful husband every day. This year, we’ve moved our fun times outdoors. We went hiking every weekend during the fall, and we skied every weekend in the winter. We wanted to be sure we were spending active time together in a safe way.

Here’s my message to you: please know that the AGS is a great community for specialists who do aging-focused research, and there’s actually quite a large community of member specialists. Come join us!"


Blythe S. Winchester, MD, MPH, CMD, AGSF

Director of Geriatrics Services

Cherokee Indian Hospital

Physician Member

"I’ve known that I wanted to be a doctor since I was young. I was a sickly child, often in and out of the hospital, and I became fascinated with science and being able to heal people. When I look back on it, I think that because I’m an Indigenous person and a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, I was searching for the healing aspect that was a part of my culture. 
We didn’t get a lot of exposure to geriatrics in med school until I did a family medicine residency. I did a geriatrics elective, and I fell in love with everything about it. I discovered that geriatricians are awesome—they’re interesting, and they have great personalities. These people are advocates who fight for the underdog.

That, plus the fact that geriatricians were so humanitarian, prompted my decision to specialize in geriatrics, despite the resident faculty member who tried dissuading me by suggesting that I’d “get plenty of geriatrics in primary care practice.” Then, while I was in med school, my dad’s father developed severe vascular dementia and went to live in a memory care unit. My mother’s mother had severe Alzheimer’s disease; both mom and dad cared for her at home until her death. The care they gave her was excellent, and I wanted both to model that and learn to help others deal with the challenges and rewards of that process.

In my tribal community, where I’m Chief Clinical Consultant for Geriatrics and Palliative Care for the Indian Health Service, there’s an urgent need for geriatricians. In fact, geriatricians are rare in my community—I know of only one other who, like myself, is a tribal person.

I joined AGS in 2010, even before I became a geriatrician. I’d worked with a geriatrician in the VA, who told me about AGS after I mentioned how I wanted to learn from and talk to other geriatricians. I'm in a rural area, so it's not like I have an academic setting with a million people I can talk to. He said that AGS is something I needed to join because it's multi-disciplinary, and it's for clinicians who also have an interest in leadership and research. I think my first annual AGS meeting was in 2010, and I immediately fell in love with everything about it I value all the knowledge that I gather and appreciate the networking at AGS meetings. I see former fellows and mentors—it’s a special time to reset and learn a ton of information. 

I rely on so much that AGS membership offers. Geriatrics at Your Fingertips is an amazing resource that I've used frequently. There’s JAGS to stay current with research. I use MyAGSOnline, the online member portal, and I've signed up for the virtual mentor match, where I help mentees get the most out of their membership.

Thanks to my AGS membership, I’ve spent three years on the Ethnogeriatrics Committee—it’s been a huge benefit to network, to meet regularly, and to hear about people who have a passion for geriatrics, as well as for inclusion and addressing diversity and what can be done on a bigger scale. So many of these geriatricians serve in academic settings and other places where they're doing amazing things. It helps me to hear about how others are working on programming and policy change."


Judith L. Beizer, PharmD, CGP, FASCP, AGSF

Clinical Professor

St. John's University

Pharmacist Member

As a pharmacist member, what types of AGS resources are most important to you?

The AGS provides me with a number of useful resources, both in print and at the AGS Annual Scientific Meeting. The most obvious resource is AGS’s commitment to keeping the Beers Criteria relevant by updating it every three years. Since it was first released, the AGS Beers Criteria® has been a useful tool for pharmacists to use when performing drug regimen reviews in nursing homes and when educating prescribers about the appropriate use of medication for older adults.

The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS) is also very useful. In fact, that’s how I was introduced to the AGS. I subscribed to the journal for a number of years before I realized that I could join the AGS as a pharmacist. I also use the Geriatrics Evaluation & Management tools and Geriatrics at Your Fingertips. These are easy to use and helpful when teaching students.

The AGS Annual Scientific Meeting is a great meeting for pharmacists to attend. I really appreciate that the AGS makes sure to provide pharmacists with continuing education (CE) credits for a lot of the sessions. The educational sessions are informative and high-quality, and I can get much of my annual required CE from the meeting. The AGS even sponsors a breakfast for pharmacist members. It’s a great time to network and share ideas with other pharmacists practicing in geriatrics.

What inspires you?

I am inspired and motivated by the importance of providing quality and dignified care for older adults. I am inspired by my patients, some of whom live with multiple co-morbidities that can make their care unique but all of whom maintain a positive attitude that’s essential to well-being. 

I am also inspired by my students. It is so important to me that I impress upon my students the importance of geriatric care. I try, by example, to instill in them an appreciation not only for the unique needs of older men and women but also for the role  pharmacists play in older adult care—a role that goes beyond pharmaceutical issues. I tell my students that geriatrics is a holistic practice and a team sport. My favorite quote, one that I include in every rotation schedule, is: “Patients don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” That’s the meaning and joy in practicing geriatrics, no matter the profession. It’s noticing the little things when you enter a person’s room, and asking if there’s anything else you can do for them—whether it’s getting some fresh water or helping them make a phone call. I love taking my students on “social rounds” at the end of the day once we’ve finished with the medication-related issues. It helps them see the men and women they’re caring for as real people, and not just as diagnoses.

What does geriatrics mean to you? (If you’re up to the challenge – describe this in 3 words).

Caring, Complexity, Interdisciplinary.


Peggy A. Szwabo, PhD, MSW, AGSF

Private Practice

Szwabo & Associates

Social Worker Member

How did you become involved in the AGS?

Early in my career, I was part of a panel presentation - my first contact with the AGS.  I was struck with the approachability of all AGS members, from the world renowned to a variety of interdisciplinary students.  Everyone was accessible and interested in a dialogue or discussion of aging issues. The milieu of the AGS continues to be supportive, encouraging and open.  My involvement has broadened my knowledge and has given me resources and connections at my fingertips.

As a Social Worker member, what types of AGS resources are important to you?

Professional contacts and the accessibility of those members and AGS staff. (Staff even connected me with an unknown relative!) I keep up and participate in legislative and lobbying efforts.  Of particular interest are mental health issues, aging women, and cultural issues.  I have been involved in education and furthering the AGS's goal of interprofessional representation and input in their membership. The AGS has been on the forefront of developing this inclusiveness.

What do you enjoy most about geriatrics?

I am constantly amazed and humbled at the diversity, heterogeneity, and survivorship of this group of individuals. Their stories and the lives they have lived continue to challenge and humble me as a health care provider. One cannot make assumptions about this generation.

How have your personal experiences and stories helped shape the way you work?

I try to maintain an approach of dignity and communication. I listen.  My goal is to help the person say what they want and need and to help translate those concerns to others.  One of my strengths is translating theory, medical issues into very practical steps. Also I believe in the concept of "who you are now, is what you were when”-- how the past affects your present day behavior, for example, living through the depression and how money is spent or saved. Historical time lines can help us understand our patients’ behavior.


Mary H. Palmer, PhD, RNC, FAAN, AGSF

Professor in Aging

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing

Nurse Member

What do you value about AGS membership?

The stellar annual conferences advance interdisciplinary collaboration, offering opportunities to network and exchange ideas with colleagues. Having a background in nursing, I value the multidisciplinary collegial environment, which encourages healthcare professionals with an interest in geriatrics to contribute equally. Our collective expertise has influenced the practice of geriatrics, aging research, education, and health policy and has strengthened our voice in advocating for older adults. The AGS and its members share my passion to improve the lives of older adults, and it is my privilege to belong to and serve this valuable organization.

How has AGS membership helped you in your career and professional life?

The AGS has helped me to stay current on clinical issues such as medication management, the quality of care in nursing homes, identifying and treating depression and dementia in older adults, new clinical care guidelines, and the latest in scientific advancements in clinical aging research. I continue to use AGS information and materials as a teaching resource for nursing and other healthcare students and trainees.

The AGS has also proved invaluable in my own research on urinary incontinence in older adults with chronic diseases like heart failure or who undergo hip fracture repair. Many of my research collaborators are AGS members and the scientific meeting is a great venue to network and further these and new collaborations.


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