Often called the fastest-growing specialty in modern healthcare, hospital medicine focuses on the care of hospitalized patients from admission through discharge and comprises a variety of members of the care team. Hospitalists, or practitioners of hospital medicine, include physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
While typically trained in internal medicine, hospitalists can also be trained in family medicine, pediatrics and other specialties. Rather than practice off-site, they are based in the hospital to provide improved continuity of care for patients. With roots in the United States, the model continues to expand to additional countries, including the Netherlands, Japan and Brazil.
The Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM), the medical society dedicated to the specialty, recognizes hospital medicine as a “big tent,” including non-clinical staff such as practice managers and practice administrators in addition to the providers on the hospital floor. These team members play integral roles in ensuring the success of the care team and improving patient outcomes.
Options and flexibility
Another unique aspect of hospital medicine is the multitude of career paths available to practitioners, from operations to executive management and other leadership opportunities. Because hospitalists interact with multiple departments and specialties, their global view of patient care makes them optimal candidates for quality improvement projects in areas like care transitions, medication reconciliation, glycemic control and more. This level of involvement in hospital operations often leads them to C-suite executive positions in hospitals and health systems.
Hospital medicine traditionally features a flexible schedule, including the 7-on/7-off model; in this model, hospitalists work seven 12-hour shifts for seven days in a row and then have seven days off. Some practices are even experimenting with 4-on/5-off or other variations of the traditional model. Compared to models used in other specialties, hospital medicine offers additional flexibility to providers, making hospital medicine an attractive option.
Join the movement
The hospital medicine movement continues to grow in size and prominence. The American Board of Internal Medicine recognizes Focused Practice in Hospital Medicine as an optional recertification pathway for traditional internal medicine physicians, and in 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services introduced a hospitalist specialty code, C6, which demonstrates its importance to the healthcare landscape. Grow along with this exciting field in healthcare and consider a career in hospital medicine.