University of Pittsburgh
Combined Clinical Years

Geriatrics Course

October 22, 2018–October 26, 2018
1 week

Course Director
Rollin Wright, MD, MA, MPH
Assistant Professor
Department of Geriatric Medicine

Course Description

The Geriatrics course focuses on an interprofessional team approach to complex issues related to aging, which span the basic sciences, clinical acumen, and profound socioeconomic issues for our society.  The course is intended to help medical students, as well as selected nursing and pharmacy students, understand the critical issues of aging, and the importance of team-based health care for geriatric patients in long term care facilities.

This course is placed in the curriculum at the mid-point of the third year, which is a unique teachable moment where students can benefit from focused instruction on key topics which are commonly encountered during the core clerkships.

The Geriatrics course is designed to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and experience to recognize and approach common problems in older adults in inpatient and outpatient settings as well as in the nursing home.

Specific objectives include preparing students to:

  1. be aware of the great spectrum of health, functional, and cognitive states among individuals as they age.
  2. be able to define the word geriatric syndrome, identify a patient with a geriatric syndrome, and develop a rational approach to the work-up and management.
  3. be able to describe changes in pharmacologic parameters that occur with aging, obtain a medication history from a geriatric patient, and recognize common drug-related problems in older patients.
  4. be able to discuss an approach to a patient with possible cognitive impairment including clinical exam, lab testing, and imaging.

  5. be able to list treatments for dementia and describe their use.

  6. be able to list hazards of hospitalization and strategies to minimize their occurrence.
  7. be able to explain similarities and differences between assisted living, post-hospital rehabilitation, and a dementia unit, and the patient characteristics associated with each.

  8. be able to describe the difficulties encountered during transitions of care.

  9. be able to describe elements of a patient discharge plan with a focus on patient safety.

  10. be able to conduct a basic functional and cognitive assessment of a patient.

The course faculty members are drawn from the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy.

Educational Methods


Lectures Clinical site visits Patient case sessions team-based assignments
Workshops Small-group cases        



Evaluation for this course is based on the course individual and group assignments, the course examination, and attendance and participation in the various course sessions.

Grading: This course is graded Satisfactory / Unsatisfactory.

Faculty Note

Robert Arnold, MD, is a member of the UPSOM Academy of Master Educators.