Media Contacts

Melinda Rogers

Jun 07, 2013 2:19 PM

(SALT LAKE CITY)— The University of Utah School of Medicine has been selected to receive a $1 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to improve physician training in geriatric medicine, the Las Vegas-based foundation announced Friday.

The University of Utah is one of 10 institutions selected nationwide to receive funding as part of the foundation’s 2012 call for proposals for its “Next Steps in Physicians’ Training In Geriatrics” grants. Recipients of the grants are continuing work already started to improve the quality of life for elderly in the U.S. by preparing physicians to provide better care for frail, older people. 

The University of Utah School of Medicine plans to use the funding for an ambitious program that will provide competency-based training in patient quality, safety and care transitions, said Mark Supiano, M.D., who is professor and chief of the school’s Division of Geriatric Medicine as well as director of the VA’s Salt Lake City Geriatric, Research, Education and Clinical Center. 

“We can now with this grant offer training related to taking better care of older patients as it relates to the quality and safety of their care with a particular focus on care transitions,” said Supiano. “At the end of the day, given the aging demographics of our state and country, our physician trainees are increasingly going to be taking care of older patients. This grant will help to ensure that physicians are equipped to manage a growing geriatric patient-base in the future.”  

Supiano previously received a Reynolds Foundation grant while working at the University of Michigan. He has continued his relationship with the foundation during his tenure at the University of Utah, which started in 2005. Supiano said the University of Utah made major strides in providing geriatric education for its medical student and community-based primary care providers after receiving its first round of Reynolds Foundation funding.

The latest grant will focus attention on several important topics related to geriatrics for graduate medical education trainees. One of those areas includes health care transitions—an area that needs scrutiny in order to reduce the hospital readmission rates of older patients.

New funds for geriatric medicine training also come as medical students must now show competency levels in taking care of older patients before they can graduate, said Wayne Samuelson, M.D., vice dean for education in the University of Utah School of Medicine. 

“The way students receive medical training has changed dramatically in recent years,” Samuelson said. “This grant will allow the University of Utah to stay ahead of the curve and to add to the already top-notch training we are able to give our medical students —as well as practicing physicians who turn to us to stay up-to-date on maximizing their skills to provide patients with the best care possible.” 

The School of Medicine plans to develop a two-level training program for residents in all of the school’s residency programs. The first level for all 27 residency programs and 41 fellowship programs will introduce required entry-level training activities such as two new quality and safety training modules, said Supiano.  Residents and fellows also will learn to complete specific discharge summaries for older patients being sent to skilled nursing facilities.

The second level of the new program the School of Medicine is developing involves bringing more advanced geriatrics training to six residency programs that have previously been involved in the “Chief Resident Immersion Training” program and the 10 fellowship programs in internal medicine sub-specialties.  Supiano estimates about 250 physicians each year will benefit from participating in the training program.

The Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic foundation founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. The organization has committed more than $245 million nationwide to its Aging and Quality of Life program.