Old age psychiatry
Why choose Old Age Psychiatry?
Old Age Psychiatry is fundamentally about the assessment, management and care of patients who develop mental health problems later in life. These conditions can be diverse; for most people this will be the first time they have experienced mental health problems with the attendant stress and strains for individuals and their families. Alternatively, it might be that patients have grown older with pre-existing mental health difficulties. The mental health problems include types of brain diseases associated with dementia, such Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as other forms of major mental illness such as Depression, Mania and Schizophrenia.
Old age psychiatrists will meet people in a range of settings including their home, memory clinics, care settings, day hospitals, in-patient units and liaison psychiatry. There are often important interactions between general health and neurological conditions, so a good working knowledge of these clinical topics can be very important, as are psychological and social form of assessment and interventions. Old Age psychiatrists therefore require a range of clinical skills, and work closely with GPs and other professionals, usually in multi-disciplinary teas. There are also important ethical and medico-legal aspects to be considered. Clearly the importance of Old Age Psychiatry is highlighted by the changing age structured of the population, as well higher expectations of what constitutes a good service.
As a trainee what can I expect from my training programme?
Specialty training in Old Age Psychiatry (ST4-ST6) usually takes 3 years and normally follows 3 years of training in Core Psychiatry (CT1-CT3). During the programme trainees are offered 3 x 1 year posts (or 4 x 1 year posts if undertaking training in both Old Age and Adult Psychiatry, so-called “dual training”). The programme is well established with a wide and interesting variety of clinical and where appropriate academic placements in Old Age Psychiatry in Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland, Durham, Darlington, Stockton and Middlesbrough. Trainees will get the opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge towards obtaining a Certificate of Specialist Training in Old Age Psychiatry.
There are many opportunities to undertake clinical, research, special interests and teaching in Old Age Psychiatry. Indeed, the North East has one of the most established academic departments of Old Age Psychiatry in the country with a national and international reputation dating back as far 1950s and continuing to this day. The legacy has been a superb infrastructure for clinical ageing research, further enhanced by multi-million pound investments in clinical research between Newcastle University and NHS over the last few years. There are exciting opportunities to be involved with drug development and testing in clinical trials, or the application of new neuroimaging techniques to better understand brain disease, to name a few. Thorough out training there is regular support from the training scheme and educational supervision as well career support. To date trainees have been very successful in securing a consultant post, most often the North East but else in the country and sometimes overseas.
What our trainees say:
Seeing older people with a mixture of organic and functional illnesses also offers an intellectually satisfying challenge which helps you keep the important link with medicine. In my experience older people are most often respectful towards doctors and grateful for your service which makes them a pleasure to work with.
There will be significant developments in Old Age Psychiatry in the future and to be part of this will be an exciting opportunity to make a huge difference in the lives of a growing ageing population.
Current vacancy information (links to HEE website recruitment page)
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