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Pediatrics to Geriatrics?

Steven C. Burns, MD
Am J Dis Child. 1987;141(2):122. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1987.04460020012002.
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Sir.—The recent editorial comment regarding the proposed transition from pediatrician to geriatrician1 sparked some amusement in our family practice group. However, the suggestion that geriatrics can be learned in a program of one or two years ("reasonable duration"?) displays a remarkable distance from the actual practice of medicine. The current primary care physicians for the elderly, internists, and family physicians are well trained from the first year of residency in diseases of the elderly, and most would bristle at the suggestion that elderly patients should be approached as if they were children. The differences in patient population are much more numerous than their similarities.

In general, pediatricians deal with acute illnesses in basically healthy patients. This does not impugn their ability to handle life-threatening illnesses, but the vast majority of pediatric patients can be expected to have a single, survivable illness. How does a pediatrician learn, in "one or


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