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From the Heart
May 5, 2021

As Old Cardiologists Fade Away

Author Affiliations
  • 1Cardiovascular Consultant, Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • 2NorthShore University Health System, Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago, Rush Medical College, Chicago, Illinois
  • 3Keck School of Medicine, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
JAMA Cardiol. Published online May 5, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2021.1001

In 1905, Sir William Osler, MDCM, often described as the Father of Modern Medicine, opined that “the effective, moving, vitalizing work of the world is done between the ages of twenty-five and forty. It is downhill from then on. Men should retire at 60 years of age.”1 Nobel Prize winner Sir Frederick Banting, MD, discovered insulin at age 32 years. Madame Marie Curie, ScD, received the first of her 2 Nobel Prizes at age 36 years. Osler did not mention women, nor could he have anticipated that a child born in the US in 2020 has a 50:50 chance of celebrating her or his 100th birthday. Much has changed in both society and medicine since Osler made his many seminal contributions to our profession. Late-career physicians are now an indispensable part of our present-day workforce—nearly one-quarter of all cardiologists now practicing in the US are older than 65 years.2 While the adverse effects of aging on the cognitive and sensorimotor skills a physician uses to competently care for patients are undeniable,3 these changes are highly variable in their manifestations and are not easily delineated, quantified, or regulated.4

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