Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) Program

The MSTAR Program, funded by an NIH T35 grant, provides medical students, early in their training, generally rising MSII, with an enriching summer experience in aging-related research and geriatrics, under the mentorship of top experts in the field. This program introduces students to research and academic experiences that they might not otherwise have during medical school. This positive introduction has led many physicians-in-training to pursue academic careers in aging, ranging from basic science to clinical research to health services research. They have joined the growing cadre of physicians and scientists whose specialized knowledge and skills are in great demand as our population ages. Stipends are provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in conjunction with American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR.)

Carolina Geriatric Education Center

The Carolina Geriatric Education Center (CGEC), a HRSA-funded center, works with North Carolina’s health and human service practitioners to develop effective approaches to the care of older people in their communities, including those in rural and underserved areas. With leadership from the Center for Aging and Health, the CGEC is a collaborative effort of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the North Carolina Area Health Education Center (AHEC) program.

Collaborating partners include the NC Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Program and all nine regional AHEC partners covering all of the 100 counties in North Carolina. Continuing education for health care professionals and families is provided by all regional AHECs along with the UNC Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Social Work, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Public Health.

Since 2010 continuing Geriatrics education through the CGWEP and its predecessor the Carolina Geriatric Education Center (CGEC) has trained almost 30,000 health professionals from all levels in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, social work, public health, dentistry, allied health, and health administration.

The CGWEP is on the cutting edge of health care promoting evidence-based falls prevention trainings, developing practitioner core competencies in geriatrics and interprofessional practice, and advocating for mental health for older adults. Core project components include: faculty development, curriculum development, continuing education, student training, and preparation of residents and fellows for effective geriatrics teaching and practice.

Dementia Friendly Hospital Initiative 

Funded by a grant from The Duke Endowment, UNC’s Division of Geriatric Medicine has begun training staff at UNC Hospital’s Hillsborough Campus in best practices of dementia-friendly care. The Dementia Friendly Hospital Initiative will be piloted at Hillsborough and brought to three additional UNC Health Care Hospitals: NC Memorial Hospital in Chapel Hill; Pardee UNC Health Care in Hendersonville, and Wayne UNC Health Care in Goldsboro. Eventually, a total of 3900 employees from multiple disciplines and departments will be trained in dementia friendly care across all four hospitals.

UNC Health Care is the first major health care system in the state to deliver hospital-wide training to multiple partnering hospitals and position for broad, system-wide dementia-friendly education and training. Program goals are to:

  • deliver dementia-friendly training to clinical and non-clinical staff
  • improve hospital quality and safety for patients and families
  • support timely, cost-effective, and compassionate hospital care for older adults living with dementia
  • shorten patient stays and help them avoid hospital re-admittance

Senior Mentor Program 

The Senior Mentor Program, developed and directed by Ellen Roberts, PhD, MPH, is a required program for all first-year medical students at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The program’s purpose is to improve the quality of care of future doctors when treating older persons. Through a series of visits with seniors, medical school students gain a broader understanding of the health impacts of aging. The program aims to:

  • counter stereotypes about aging
  • foster positive connections to older adults
  • develop effective skills for working with older patients

All first-year medical school students participate in the Senior Mentor Program during their spring semester Patient-Centered Care Course.

Care of the Older Patient Scholarly Concentration

The Care of the Older Patient Scholarly Concentration helps prepare medical students to care for older adults in their professional careers, regardless of what clinical specialty they ultimately pursue. Students participate in patient care in a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings. Faculty members work with students throughout the four-year program and assist in designing and completing a project. Completion of the concentration will be recognized on the student’s official transcript, in the commencement program, and in a letter of accommodation placed in the student’s academic file.

Goals of the scholarly concentration include:

  • Provide an integrated 4-year elective program of geriatric experiences.
  • Increase knowledge base and sensitivity to the issues of aging adults.
  • Introduce the principles of inpatient, outpatient, nursing home, and home care for the elderly.
  • Learn function, social, cognitive, and physical assessment skills.
  • Facilitate research activities and critical thinking.

American Geriatrics Society (AGS) UNC Student Chapter

The mission of the American Geriatrics Society – UNC-CH Student Chapter is to interest physicians-in-training in the field of geriatrics, to enhance the visibility of geriatric medicine at the UNC School of Medicine, and to provide educational programs on geriatric medicine. The chapter aims to educate all medical students in relevant aspects of aging, especially those who do not specifically plan to enter the field of geriatrics. For those students specifically interested in geriatrics, the chapter seeks to develop leadership skills in geriatric medicine by sponsoring interdisciplinary programs, encouraging and funding research participation, and creating geriatric-related community service opportunities.