Hospitalist Job Description:
My specialty is internal medicine. I was and am an internist. Hospitalists are internists who practice in the hospital. A hospitalist exclusively cares for patients in the hospital setting. This includes admitting patients to the hospital, evaluating patients in the Emergency Department, and managing patients across all settings in the hospital: ICU, telemetry and general medical surgical floors.
A hospitalist admits patients for physicians in the community who do not wish to admit their own patients, or who have decided to focus exclusively on their outpatient practices. Communication between the hospitalist and the outpatient physician is key to successful care.
Please describe the steps in your hospitalist career.
I didn't initially start out as a hospitalist. I initially began practice in an outpatient setting, and I did some hospital work. My transition to hospital medicine occurred when I realized that I could no longer perform adequately as a physician in the outpatient and inpatient settings. In order to become a hospitalist, one only needs to complete a residency in general internal medicine and then apply for a job. There are some fellowships in hospital medicine (advanced training), but these are not required in order to be a hospitalist.
Can you recall any memorable moments from your hospitalist job?
Memorable moments usually come down to when you make a positive impact on a patient's life. I remember, early on, calling a patient's wife to give her an update on her husband's condition. She was surprised to hear from me, because no one had ever called her. I went over everything in detail with her, and at the end of the call she said, "You are the best, most kindest doctor I have ever had. Thank you so much for giving me this information." Positive reinforcement like that is always memorable.
What advice would you give to those seeking hospitalist job openings?
Make sure you are happy just practicing in a hospital, and make sure that you will not miss the continuity of care that you may lack being a hospitalist. Your patient care duties will mostly be episodic, so, unless a patient is admitted for a long time, or unless they are readmitted many times, you won't have the continuity you get in the outpatient setting. This is key to realize before going down the path as a hospitalist.
What is the outlook for hospitalist employment?
Hospitalist employment looks very good. More and more doctors in the outpatient setting are relinquishing their inpatient responsibilities to hospitalists so they can focus on their practices. So I would say there is no lack of jobs out there. Also, hospitalists tend to be better compensated than outpatient physicians.
What factors can affect hospitalist salaries?
A hospitalist salary is determined by the number of patients you see, and the percentage of those with insurance versus no insurance. I typically see between 20 to 30 patients per day, and that allows me to have a generous hospitalist compensation package. Hospitalist practices generally have very small overhead compared to outpatient offices, so hospitalist salaries can be higher.
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