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We need to be the leaders and managers as we are the physicians

Contributor: Piotr Seiffert, Geriatrician

Origin/affiliation: Poland

"I can be called a geriatrician since last July - that is when I proudly passed my exam. It takes at least 5 years of extensive training to become a specialist in this field in Poland. Like others, I have experienced many night shifts, lots of difficult decisions, numerous hard conversations with patients and their caregivers. But the harder part is yet to come. Telling the truth, there are just over 450 geriatricians in this 38 million-people country, concentrated mainly around big hospitals and academical centres. What is more, only about half of them work in this field, while others find their place in different specializations. There are many areas of Poland with a lack of geriatricians. So there is really a lot to do!

I find the situation as an opportunity to become an example of proper care of older people to other professionals. They are not used to assess cognitive function, mood, balance, functional status, malnutrition etc.

I have the privilege to work on subacute geriatric ward. Everyday I discuss with other members of multidisciplinary team about complex patients' problems. Even though geriatricians in Poland are perceived as "dementia doctors" I find it even more interesting to improve the physical, nutritional and functional status of my patients.

I also work in a long-term care facility. I can't imagine this place without a geriatrician "style" of care.

I discovered that a huge part of a geriatrician job is to manage, teach and inspire other members of the team. It was very surprising to me, that even a small organizational change can make a huge difference in patient experience and care. In my opinion we need to be the leaders and managers as we are the physicians."

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