The Professional Certificate of Geriatric Medicine enables primary care practitioners to recognise clinical health changes in older patients to improve opportunities for prevention and early treatment.
People aged 65 years and over account for 20 per cent of presentations to emergency departments and nine per cent of hospital admissions in Australia. By 2057, this age demographic is predicted to represent 22 per cent of the population (an increase from 15 per cent in 2017).
General practitioners play a key role in delivering high-quality primary care to these patients. Given their knowledge of the patient, including social context and history, GPs are often ideally placed to focus on prevention and early-stage identification of chronic health problems in older patients which are a common presentation in general practice.
This online certificate course will enable you to diagnose and manage patients with dementia, osteoporosis and depression; screen patients at risk of falls and fractures and provide fall prevention strategies; manage polypharmacy in elderly patients; identify common end of life presentations and support patients in palliative care; assess the unique dietary needs of older patients; and help patients access aged care services.
This course is the first stage of the three-part Professional Diploma of Geriatric Medicine.
The Professional Certificate of Geriatric Medicine is for physicians and degree-qualified medical professionals who wish to learn how to improve outcomes for elderly patients seen in general practice.
This qualification is the first stage of the Professional Diploma of Geriatric Medicine. There are no prerequisites. Participants do not have to pass an IELTS test but, as the courses are delivered in English, proficiency in listening, reading and writing English is assumed.
Participants will require access to a computer/laptop, an internet connection and a basic level of technology proficiency to access and navigate the online learning portal.
Course participants will:
Module 1: Diagnosing dementia
This module commences with the statistics and clinical significance of dementia. Common dementia diseases outlined include Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia and younger onset dementia. Diagnosis information including history, early signs and symptoms, other cognitive impairment causes and inclusion/exclusion criteria are outlined. Examination options include observations, bedside tests, cardiovascular, neuro and mental health. Pathology and imaging options are discussed including screening tools and their advantages and disadvantages. The module then moves to the benefits of early diagnosis and concludes with applying the module learning to three case studies.
Module 2: Falls in the elderly
This module commences with the definition and statistics for falls in the elderly. Risk and prevention factors at both the community and individual level are considered. Predictors for fall risk include increasing age, history of falls, abnormal gait or balance and polypharmacy. Validated falls risk screening tools are discussed that lead to assessment and implementation of a management plan to reduce risk of falls and fall related injuries. As part of the assessment process, history, examination, intrinsic and extrinsic factors risk factors, home assessment and appropriate investigations support the development of a management plan. Medications that may increase falls risk are listed together with falls reduction programs for the patient and also for the clinical setting.
Module 3: Polypharmacy and how to manage it
This module begins with describing polypharmacy and the health considerations for medications in persons over 65 years. Inappropriate prescribing and over the counter medications puts elder patients at the risk of adverse drug reactions. The physiological changes in the elderly are outlined. The number of people being prescribed multiple treatments is rising and a suggested systematic approach to prescribing new medications and regular medication reviews are outlined, including a systematic approach to deprescribing. Factors to consider before prescribing a new medication include determining the goals of treatment, patient values/preferences, medications known to increase the likelihood of a prescribing cascade occurring and medication interactions. The process of Domiciliary Medication Management Reviews (DMMR) is outlined. The approach to deprescribing, including barriers, tapering of medications and medications commonly associated with adverse events are provided. The module concludes with key take home points.
Module 4: Osteoporosis
This module commences by describing osteoporosis and related statistics. Bone physiology and determinants of bone density are revisited and modifiable risk factors outlined. Fracture risk factors independent of Bone mineral density (BMD) are outlined and two calculators for assessing fracture risk are included. Recommendations for identifying patients to investigate for osteoporosis and bone mineral density testing are outlined. The management of osteoporosis is discussed from a non-pharmacological, lifestyle and pharmacological perspective. The module then discusses osteoporosis in men including risk factors. The module concludes with focusing on osteoporosis in young people including chronic diseases associated with lowered BMD, assessment and the principles of treatment of osteoporosis in children and adolescents.
Module 5: Palliative care - the essentials
This module begins with describing palliative care, care providers and patients eligible for palliative care. It focusses on the medical practitioner role including breaking the news, how the patient may feel, cultural awareness, goals of care and having the difficult conversations. Pain assessment is discussed including diagnostic tools, types of pain and managing pain by both non-pharmacological and pharmacological methods. Options of pain management are discussed including working through a case study. The module then moves to symptom management of the gastrointestinal tract including nausea and vomiting, constipation and bowel obstruction. The module concludes with further symptom management including dyspnoea, fatigue, mood and anxiety, including dosage and delivery modes.
Module 6: Depression in the elderly
This module begins with an overview of depression and the increasing higher levels of psychological distress for older people. The content includes information on understanding depression, depression categories and how the medical profession defines depression. It then moves to the causes of depression, risk factors for the elderly, and other causal factors including at-risk groups. The effects of depression and how they may be displayed are mentioned, then considers diagnostic information, screening and assessment tools. Assessing suicide risk, differential considerations and investigations are outlined. The GP Mental health Care Plan and treatment approach includes education, lifestyle changes, psychological and medication considerations. The module concludes with two clinical case studies.
Module 7: Nutrition in the elderly
This module commences with looking at the causes and effect of malnutrition in the elderly. Included are the physiological effects of ageing on the gastrointestinal system and other clinical manifestations including anorexia. Understanding undernutrition in the elderly includes screening assessment tools and information on management techniques. Undernutrition is also often associated with people with dementia. The module then moves to obesity in the elderly including sarcopenic obesity. Approaches to weight loss in the elderly are included. The module concludes with an overview and guidelines of nutrient requirements in the elderly.
Module 8: Aged care services and residential aged care
The elderly are more likely to have complex and multiple health care needs and problems. The medical practitioner’s role in caring for the elderly considers family and other carer relationships and medical legal practicalities. This includes communicating with carers, recognising carer stress and when to recommend respite care. Complexities and options for caring for the elderly in the community including government subsidised services like the Commonwealth Home Support Programme and Home Care Packages. Transition, respite care and mental health care information is included together with information on retirement villages and supported accommodation options. The module then moves to how to apply for residential aged care facilities (RACF), ACAT assessments and considerations to achieving residential aged care. Services are discussed together with the transition process to supported accommodation. The module concludes with information on the medical practitioner role in providing care to residents in RACFs and includes Medicare information.
*The individual offers and special rates cannot be used in conjunction with any other specials.
A/Prof Debbie Kors
MBBS (first class honours)
General practitioner and GP supervisor
Associate Professor Debbie Kors is the founder and joint owner of a private teaching general practice in Port Macquarie, Australia. She works there as a general practitioner and GP supervisor of GP registrars and medical students.
A/Prof Kors is a passionate advocate for the profession of general practice. She is a Conjoint Associate Professor in Primary Health Care at the UNSW Rural Clinical School, Port Macquarie campus and has previously worked as a senior medical educator with North Coast GP Training. In 2010, she was nominated for and won the General Practice Education and Training GP Supervisor of the Year award.
A/Prof Kors holds a MBBS (first class honours), Fellowship of the RACGP, Masters of Family Medicine (clinical), Diploma of the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Graduate Diploma of Medical Education and a Certificate of Family Planning.
Dr Christine Ahern
Senior lecturer at Sydney University
Dr Christine Ahern has worked as a general practitioner in rural NSW since 1983, often with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Her special interests include women’s health and education.
Dr Ahern is a senior lecturer at Sydney University and has previously been the Director of Training for North Coast GP Training. In 2011 she was named the General Practice Education and Training Medical Educator of the Year, a prestigious national award. Dr Ahern holds a MBBS and FRACGP.
Dr Kate Moriarty
Bachelor of Medicine (Honours), FRACGP, Diploma in Child Health
Dr Kate Moriarty works in private general practice in Port Macquarie, Australia, where she is also a supervisor of GP registrars and of medical students. She is a senior lecturer for UNSW Rural Clinical School, Port Macquarie campus. She has special interests in women’s health and medical education.
She holds a Bachelor of Medicine (honours), Fellowship of the RACGP and a Diploma in Child Health.
Dr Sharon Sykes
MBBS, FRACGP, Bachelor of Applied Science (Med Lab Sci)
Dr Sharon Sykes works in private general practice in Port Macquarie, Australia where she is also a supervisor of GP registrars and of medical students. Dr Sykes served 18 years in the Royal Australian Air Force before becoming a general practitioner. She has a special interest in medical education and has previously worked as a medical educator for North Coast GP Training.
She holds a MBBS, Bachelor of Applied Science (Med Lab Sci) and a Fellowship of the RACGP.
Dr Elizabeth Ryrie
MBBS, FRACGP, Bachelor of Arts and Sciences, Diploma in Child Health
Dr Elizabeth Ryrie is a practising clinician working fulltime in general practice in Port Macquarie, NSW. She completed her medical studies at the Australian National University in 2012 after an undergraduate degree at The University of Sydney. She spent her years as a junior doctor in Canberra, also completing a Diploma in Child Health during this time. She moved to the NSW Mid North Coast in 2015 to undergo her specialist general practice training.
Dr Ryrie enjoys the variety and continuity of care that general practice offers. She is particularly interested in paediatrics, women’s health and palliative care.
Dr Paige Darlington
MBBS, FRACGP, Diploma in Child Health
Dr Paige Darlington works in a private practice in Port Stephens, Australia, where she is a supervisor of GP registrars and medical students. She has a special interest in women's and children's health. She holds a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, Fellowship of the RACGP and a Diploma in Child Health.
Dr Evangelia Francis
FRACGP, MBBS, Bachelor in Sciences (First class Honours in Neuroscience), Diploma in Child Health, Diploma of the Royal College Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Diploma of Family Planning & Sexual Health
Dr Evangelia (Valia) Francis is a GP. Dr Francis enjoys all aspects of General Practice but is especially interested in skin medicine, women's health and medicine of the elderly.
Originally from the coastal town of Kavala in Greece, Dr Francis is involved in teaching medical students as a Conjoint Lecturer in the Rural Medical School of Port Macquarie as well as teaching registrars. It is a very fulfilling aspect of her work that has been greatly inspired and supported by the senior educators at her practice.
When not at work, Dr Francis tries to fight waves with surf or paddle boards (so far they always win!), is training hard to become the next MasterChef winner, and enjoys reading books and learning new languages.
Prof Barbara Workman
MBBS, MD, FRACP, AFRACMA
Director, MONARC (Monash Ageing Research Centre), Monash University
Head, Academic Unit of Geriatric Medicine, MONARC, Monash University
Professor of Geriatric Medicine, Monash University
Medical Director, Rehabilitation and Aged Care Services, Monash Health (Retired March 2021)
The Professional Certificate of Geriatric Medicine has been independently reviewed by Professor Barbara Workman, Medical Director (Rehabilitation and Aged Care Services) at Monash Health. Formerly, Prof Workman was a Professor of Geriatric Medicine at Monash University.
The Professional Certificate of Geriatric Medicine is fully delivered online. Participants can enjoy the flexibility to study at their own pace, in their own time, within their home or office, and on their favourite mobile device. The modules are set up in such a way that participants are not required to be online at specific times but can view and replay the video lectures at their convenience.
The webinars offer the opportunity to join and interact with the presenters online in real-time but can also be viewed later. There are no face-to-face requirements for exams which can be conveniently completed online within three months of the exam opening date. With no travel, accommodation or out-of-office expenses incurred, participants can build critical skills and tailor their career while working in a busy practice or raising a family.
There are eight units in a HealthCert Professional Certificate program. The course is delivered over 15 weeks with 12 weeks of teaching followed by three weeks for revision and final examinations. The course includes online presentations from experts in the field followed by patient case discussions and decision-making. There is a final webinar prior to examinations. You will also receive valuable 12 months' web-based support from the speakers and participate in regular online learning sessions with the opportunity to ask any questions you might have as you implement your learning.
The course includes:
In order to meet the requirements of professional and academic learning, the course assessment includes two online examinations.
The knowledge-based examination is worth 50 per cent and the application-based examination is worth 50 per cent. The overall pass mark is 80 per cent. It is therefore not possible to pass this course on knowledge alone. Knowledge must be successfully applied to patient cases in order to pass the course. Examination questions are presented progressively throughout the course.HealthCert recommends completion of the assessment at your convenience within three months of the completion of the course (or enrolling in the online course).
Upon successful completion of the exam, course participants will receive a Professional Certificate of Geriatric Medicine.
RACGP: 40 CPD points
ACRRM: PDP units: 34 educational activity, 21 performance review
This Professional Certificate:
This online three-part program consists of the Professional Certificate, Advanced Certificate, and Professional Diploma of Medical Cannabis.
Certified clinical attachments pathway
Course graduates may continue their professional development by completing a clinical attachment, which are available on request. These will be on a 1:1 basis providing the opportunity to observe clinical nutrition consultation, planning and decision-making and ask questions of the expert. Clinical attachments are available in Australia.
Postgraduate pathway for Medical Cannabis
A postgraduate pathway is currently being identified. Please check with HealthCert Education Advisors for an update.