A doctor who focuses on studying and treating elderly patients has been named physician of the year by the Saskatchewan Medical Association.

Dr. Jenny Basran, head of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, is the province's only Royal College certified geriatrician.

Basran has dedicated her career to research how the health care system could be improved when it comes to seniors care.

"We really need to shift the system and make it better for older adults," she said. "All clinicians, whether they're physicians, therapists, nurses, pharmacists, they all need to have the skills to be able to support their patients."

Basran took two years of special training in geriatrics after finishing her schooling in internal medicine. There are only 200 certified geriatricians in Canada.

"A lot of doctors would say, 'Don't we all do geriatrics?'" she said. "And certainly many people have older adults as their patients. The difference in our training is we're really trained to work in an interdisciplinary team and to focus on kind of complex medical issues. So, people who have lots of chronic conditions such as dementia, lots of medications on board. We really focus on looking at the whole patient and looking at how we can make their quality of life as good as possible."

Basran is pleased with recent increases to provincial spending on seniors' care. However, she believes much more work needs to be done to reform the system.

"The health care system was really built for a younger population that had one main problem, you see your doctor, we fix it and off you go," she said. "Now, people are surviving longer, and accumulating multiple chronic diseases, so the system itself has to change. And that change is going to require a lot of collaboration."

Basran is also clinical co-lead for the Emergency Department Wait Time and Patient Flows project and a professor at the U of S College of Medicine.