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Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine

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Medical Students

In 2001 the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine was one of the early recipients of a Donald W. Reynolds grant to enhance geriatrics education at Weill Cornell Medical College. This award allowed faculty the time to focus on stimulating educational experiences using creative and innovative teaching methods. Some of the core topics covered in the geriatrics curriculum include: effective communication between physicians and older adults; the importance of avoiding ageism in the medical encounter; how assessing function can enhance independence and improve quality of life; the impact of chronic illness on the individual and their family; and living well with disability and the importance of practicing humanistic medicine (transitional care, interdisciplinary team, and geropharmacology).

Many of our faculty act as formal and informal mentors to medical students and are more than willing to provide guidance to those interested in pursuing geriatrics and palliative care as their area of interest. Click on the links below to learn more about the diverse educational approaches offering unique research and learning opportunities to our medical students:


Geriatric Medicine Elective

Fourth-year students have an opportunity to interact with older adults in a variety of settings, including:

  • The hospital (in our Acute Care for Elders Unit and through our Consultation Service)
  • The Wright Center on Aging, our ambulatory practice 
  • Home environments though our House Call program 
  • A nursing home

Additional areas that may be explored include geriatric psychiatry, neuropsychiatric testing, rehabilitation medicine, palliative medicine and hospice. The student will participate in Geriatrics Team meetings and will be expected to prepare and deliver a lecture to the geriatrics faculty and staff. We attempt to individualize the experience for the student as much as possible.

This elective is only open to students from Weill Cornell Medical College and former MSTAR/Adelman Scholars.

Longitudinal Experience to Advance Patient Care (LEAP)

A collaborative effort with faculty from a variety of different departments and disciplines creates opportunities for students to be paired with patients and follow them over their entire four years in medical school. The LEAP program offers students an opportunity to conduct home visits on patients of all ages, often accompanied by geriatric faculty member.

The goals of this course are to allow students:

  • A close pairing of basic science and clinical experience early in their education 
  • To see disease processes evolve over time
  • To learn the art of relationship building with patients and colleagues 
  • To appreciate the complexities and challenges patients face within the health care system.

The Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine plays an important role in the LEAP curriculum development and clinical mentoring of students as the four-year process unfolds. Home visit program students have the opportunity to spend an afternoon with geriatric faculty as they make their scheduled home visits together.


Geriatric Lectures

In their foundational science courses, first- and second-year medical students receive lectures on topics such as communication and the older patient, functional assessment, and chronic disease management. During their Primary Care Clerkship, students are provided with didactic sessions on such areas as dementia, urinary incontinence, falls, and elder abuse and neglect.


Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) & Adelman Medical Student Summer Programs

Each summer, selected Weill-Cornell medical students (typically students just completing their first-year of medical school training at WCMC) experience an enriching experience in aging-related research, didactics, and clinical experiences, under the mentorship of top experts in the field, that they might not otherwise have during their medical school training.   These student scholars are selected and funded by the (1) Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) program, administered by the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) and funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and other organizations, or (2) the Henry Adelman Fund for Medical Student Education in Geriatrics and the generous support of friends of the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine.  The Adelman Scholarship was created to honor the memory of Henry Adelman, father of Ronald Adelman, MD, Professor of Clinical Medicine and Co-Chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Weill-Cornell. MSTAR awardees may receive anywhere from 8-to-12 weeks of funding, as determined by the student and his/her research mentor; Adelman Scholars receive funding for an 8-week period. 

More specifically, together both MSTAR and Adelman Scholars:

  • Spend the majority of their summer on a project in basic, clinical, or health-services research relevant to the care of older people.
  • Have focused clinical experiences with older patients (1) on our ACE (Acute Care for the Elderly) Unit; (2) on geriatrics and palliative care hospital consults; (3) at our ambulatory care site, the Wright Center on Aging; (4) at one or more long-term-care facilities; (5) on one or more home visits with a geriatrics nurse practitioner; and (6) and at various community sites, including Dorot, a nonprofit service organization providing a wide range of services
  • Attend a half-day weekly small group session that includes (1) a didactic session on an aging-related topics (e.g., communicating with older patients, palliative medicine, elder abuse); (2) a journal club led by one or more Scholars on their area of research; and (3) Scholar updates on individual research projects.
  • Give a formal presentation on their research to faculty, peers, funders, and AFAR program officers at the end of the summer .
  • Prepare and present a poster at the annual WCMC Student Reserch Day
  • Prepare and present a poster at the national meeting of the American Geriatrics Society in May of the following year
  • Draft a journal-style research paper on their project (8-10 pages).

For more information, please contact:

The Division is proud to have had Scholars since Summer 1995, with the creation of the original Hartford/AFAR Medical Student Geriatric Scholars Program, administered by AFAR -- encouraging medical students--particularly budding researchers--to consider a career in academic geriatrics by awarding short-term scholarships. The links below provide information for each year since 1995 on our students, their research projects, and their research mentors (and, sometimes, photos, as well!)

Summer Scholar Program in Aging 2015

From left to right: Lindsay Smith, Amanda Su, Caitlin Finn, Luis A. Romero, Ariana Levin, Liana Greer, Lauren Pollack, Simone Elder, Natalie Wong, Rula Al-Baghdadi, and Anthony Nguyen

2015  ›  2014  ›  2013  ›  2012 ›  2011 ›  2010 › 2009 ›  2008 ›  2007 ›  2006 ›  2005 ›  2004 › 2003 ›  2002 ›  2001 ›  2000 ›  1999 ›  1998 › 1997 ›  1996 ›  1995

Special Interest in Aging

Geriatric Interest Group (GIG)

Established in 1999, GIG is an enthusiastic group of medical students who are interested in the aging population for a variety of reasons. The students in GIG recognize that:

  • Older adults are a diverse and interesting group of people; many are creative, intelligent and vibrant "successful agers" who have and continue to lead meaningful lives and can share their wisdom about living with chronic illness and the importance of resiliency.
  • The population is becoming increasingly older. In fact, people age 85 years and older are the fastest growing segment of the total US population.
  • They need to learn more about this growing population because no matter which area of medicine a medical student pursues, older adults will be among their patient population (even pediatricians must consider grandparents caring for their grandchildren).

GIG meets at various points throughout the academic year to discuss topics related to aging. Previous sessions have included:

  • A talk by a 93-year-old sex therapist on sexuality and aging.
  • Screening an award-winning documentary on aging relationships and activities in nursing home.
  • Discussing research opportunities in geriatrics and aging-related fields.
  • A diverse panel of experts on palliative care (physicians, nurse, social worker and pastor).
  • Doing physical diagnosis on patients at a nursing home.
  • Gundy, the dog (and his owner), talking about pet therapy on the Acute Care for the Elderly inpatient unit.
  • Learning about the various opportunities in geriatric medicine (e.g., academics, research, long-term care policy, private practice)
  • Learning about the MSTAR and Adelman summer scholars opportunities, shared by previous student recipients

Area of Concentration in Geriatric Medicine

Focus: The Area of Concentration (AOC) in Geriatric Medicine will offer students a broad exposure to the field of Geriatrics through core didactic lectures as well as participation in a variety of clinical experiences.

Significance: The demographic imperative of a rapidly aging population has made Geriatric medicine an increasingly important area of study. Geriatrics embraces the medical and psychosocial issues challenging older adults with particular focus on function, maximizing quality of life while living with chronic illness .Geriatrics is a rich area of study that affords students the opportunity to explore areas such as neurodegenerative disorders, rehabilitation medicine, psychiatry, pharmacology and palliative medicine. Exposure to the interdisciplinary approach to patient care that incorporates social work, OT, PT, psychiatry and other makes Geriatrics a unique learning experience for students.

Goals and Learning Objectives:

  • To understand the common Geriatrics syndromes and how they impact on the quality of life of older adults
  • To identify the components of a functional assessment and appreciate its importance in caring for older adults
  • To recognize and begin to distinguish between the common causes of cognitive decline (depression, delirium and dementia) by demonstrating use of the MOCA (Montreal cognitive Assessment tool) and GDS (Geriatric Depression Scale)
  • To appreciate the diversity in aging population and to avoid ageist attitudes
  • To appreciate the importance of working within a multi-disciplinary team
  • To appreciate the importance of obtaining advanced directives

Contact Faculty:

Area of Concentration in Palliative Medicine

Focus: The Area of Concentration (AOC) in Palliative Medicine will encompass care didactics, experiential teaching activities and clinical exposure, and a scholarly project in Palliative Medicine culminating in peer-reviewed dissemination. This AOC will prepare students to be leaders in palliative care throughout the continuum.

Significance: Palliative care is interdisciplinary medical care focused on the prevention and relief of suffering: to provide the best quality of life for patients at any stage of illness, as well as to attend to the needs of their families. Palliative care is not just end of life care, and is not dependent on a patient's prognosis. Rather, it is offered in conjunction with curative and all other appropriate forms of medical treatment. It concentrates on reducing the severity of disease symptoms through formal assessment of physical, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of seriously ill patients and their families, and addressing all of these areas.
Palliative care thus accesses the personhood of the patient - the total human being rather than just the disease. One key aspect of this is the development of communication skills, which are essential for the practice of palliative care. Palliative care teams have extended meetings with patients and families to discuss their treatment, which is increasingly a rarity in medicine today. This promotes patient-physician communication and also well-developed interdisciplinary communication. Ultimately, nurturing skills in palliative care is essential for all physicians, whatever subspecialty they practice.

Goals and Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the conceptual framework of palliative care throughout the continuum of illness.
  • Demonstrate ability to apply palliative care principles by participating in experiential educational activities and classical exposures with structured feedback.
  • Applying research methodology, develop structured research project in palliative medicine that will result in oral and/or written dissemination on a local, regional or national level.

Contact Faculty:

Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medicine New York, NY