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Dr. Rochon leads the future of geriatric medicine: A four-part series

Dr. Paula Rochon holds a number of impressive positions with several prestigious organizations and institutions. We know her best as the RTOERO Chair in Geriatric Medicine at the University of Toronto. But for a very special group of student trainees, she is not only a professor but also a mentor. Every year, Dr. Rochon accepts a small number of students into the Women’s College Hospital trainee program. These trainees are the future of geriatric medicine.

In this four-part series, we will introduce you to these innovative minds and give you a sneak peek at not only their research initiatives but also the role Dr. Rochon plays in each of their careers and the essential role she fulfills as a teacher and mentor. We’ll find out what inspires these interns to pursue the field of geriatrics and where their future aspirations lie. 

Part 1: Keshini Sriarulnathan

Keshini Sriarulnathan
Keshini Sriarulnathan

The impact of ageism during COVID-19: a survey of retired members of the education community

Please describe your project

The aim of my project is to write a research letter that highlights the issue and impact of ageism during the pandemic, especially among women. What I mean by ageism is discrimination against a person based on their age. The root cause of the problem is the lack of recognition of ageism. So if we’re unable to recognize the issue, we’re not going to be able to advocate for that particular issue. This research letter is a communication piece tailored to the general population in lay terms. It explains how we can combat ageism on individual and societal levels. I’m working to have this research letter published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Why did you decide to pursue geriatric medicine?

I have tons of experience working with older adults and a passion for serving underrepresented populations. I am interested in the intergenerational approach to gerontology – younger and older adults working together to address social problems. Another fascinating aspect of geriatric medicine is the multi-disciplinary approach to caring for older adults. Gerontology is a field of study that includes aspects of physiology, biology, sociology, psychology and public policy – all these areas are tied into geriatric medicine. Also, the growth of our aging population translates into a growing need for professionals who study gerontology.

Does your relationship with Dr. Rochon go beyond that of just teacher/student?

Yes! Dr. Rochon has been a driving force in both my academic and professional careers, and I consider her to be a valued mentor.

What value does Dr. Rochon provide as she guides you through your education?

As a mentor, Dr. Rochon helps me create the best version of myself. She does more listening than talking, allowing me to take the lead on my own education and professional path. She offers guidance without being controlling. One of the things that inspires me most about Dr. Rochon is that she gives her all to everything she’s involved with. Also, during our sessions, she is always 100% focused on our time together. Dr. Rochon frequently emphasizes the importance of work-life balance and she has inspired me to do the same.

What are your professional aspirations?

My ultimate goal is to work towards a PhD in geriatric medicine. I want to pursue a career in health care where I can combine my interests in community service and gerontology.

Read part 2: Joshua Tuazon and Nickrooz Grami – Promoting healthy aging in older women: A call to action

Read part 3: Hana Brath – Designing nursing homes with older women in mind

Read part 4: Parya Borhani – Exploring the role of implicit gender bias among physicians on prescribing cascades in older adults