After qualifying from medical school, doctors in Australia can complete 4 years of general physician training under the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. They then select a further sub-specialty such as neurology or geriatric medicine which involves 3 further years of supervised formal training.
A neurologist has undergone high level specialist training to provide care for patients with conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves. This is a complex ever changing area. Conditions that do not require consideration of surgery fall under the expertise of a neurologist including, but not limited to, dementia, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. It is typical for a neurologist at the end of their general training to take on 1-2 years of further training (a fellowship) to gain further research skills and more in-depth expertise in a specific area of neurology.
A geriatrician has undergone high level specialist training to provide care for older people usually above the age of 65. This is a complex area as patients may have multiple medical and social issues which can escalate with age. Common issues that geriatricians manage include, but are not limited to, falls, dementia, delirium, polypharmacy and social vulnerability. A geriatrician has to maintain an extremely diverse medical knowledge set, and is very adept at assessing the “whole picture” in their patients’ presentation, and making age-appropriate treatment decisions.
There is great overlap in these two specialist areas of medicine, with many neurological conditions such as dementia and stroke being more common in the older population. Both specialties have to think holistically about the impacts of their patients’ conditions, including the physical, psychological and social implications.
At SMS we have partnered geriatric medicine and neurology together in the service to provide patients the benefit of the different angles of expertise. Each patient will have both specialist inputs at each case conference discussion, in addition to other multidisciplinary members.