By Debra Wood, RN, contributor Mar 05, 2020
During the past couple of decades, hospitalist jobs have
taken hold and grown by leaps and bounds. Have you kept up on the latest in the
Let’s look at a few interesting facts about hospital
medicine in 2020.
1. Hospitalists now
have their own day, celebrated each March
Hospital medicine physicians can now celebrate National
Hospitalist Day on the first Thursday in March. This observance was
celebrated for the first time in 2019; the day falls on March 5 in 2020.
represents the celebration of this widespread MD part of the U.S. health care
system,” said Danielle Scheurer, MD, MSCR, president-elect
of Society of
Hospital Medicine’s board of directors and chief quality
officer of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
2. The term
“hospitalist” was first used nearly a quarter of a century ago
Robert M. Wachter, MD, and Lee Goldman, MD, both at the
University of California, San Francisco, first used the term “hospitalist” in
an article in The New England Journal of
Medicine in 1996. The article served as an impetus for this developing
3. Hospital medicine
is the fastest growing medical specialty
From a few hundred hospitalists more than 20 years ago, the
field has grown to more than 60,000 physicians who practice hospital medicine
“It’s the fastest growing specialty in the history of
medicine,” said John
Nelson, MD, MHM, FACP, with Nelson Flores Hospital Medicine Consultants in La
Quinta, California, and an early hospitalist.
added, “Much of the growth is in response to the increased complexity and
shortening length of stay in the hospital system.” While many services have
shifted to ambulatory care, she noted that hospitalist jobs are available; the
field is “not saturated.”
4. Hospitalists practice in
every size hospital
Every U.S. hospital has a hospitalist program, Scheurer
said. These practitioners need to know clinical care, but also other factors
associated with hospital medicine.
Nelson added hospitals in larger metropolitan areas and
those that graduate residents tend to have adequate hospitalist staffing, but
smaller hospitals are still in need of hospital medicine physicians. Demand for
hospitalists continues to exceed supply.
5. Hospitalist jobs
are in demand
Nelson reported that hospitalist jobs are in demand, even
while most hospital medicine groups employ more hospitalists than they did two
years ago. Most groups are expecting to continue adding jobs, as more complex
patients are hospitalized.
Merritt Hawkins’ 2019 Review of Physician and Advanced
Practitioner Recruiting Incentives reported a 21 percent year-over-year
increase in the number of searches for hospitalists.
6. Hospitals aren’t
the only employers
Hospital medicine physicians may be employed by the hospital,
a university or a hospitalist group medical practice.
“The employment model has been shifting to being employed by
the hospital, but it varies by site,” Scheurer said. Additionally, staffing
companies will contract to guarantee staffing, particularly in rural settings
and community access hospitals, she said.
tenens hospitalists are not employees, but are independent
contractors who are paid by locum staffing companies like Staff Care.
7. Hospitalists tend
to be younger physicians, with mixed demographics
Medscape Hospitalist Compensation Report found that 55 percent of
hospitalists are ages 35 to 49 years, and 22 percent are younger than 35 years.
The age of hospitalists trends lower than for primary care physicians. Only 3
percent of hospitalists are 65 years or older. |
The report also showed that the gender breakdown among
hospitalists was 40 percent women and 60 percent men.
Asian and Caucasian physicians dominate the racial/ethnic
mix among hospitalists, with 37 percent and 36 percent respectively. Hispanics
represent 8 percent, blacks 5 percent, and mixed race 4 percent.
8. Two-thirds of hospitalists are satisfied with
The 2019 Medscape report indicated hospitalists earn an
average of $242,000 annually. Eighty-six percent of hospitalists receive
professional liability coverage. Most also receive health, dental and vision
insurance, and a retirement plan with an employer match. Sixty-five percent
report feeling they are compensated fairly.
9. Hospital medicine
can be a good first step for new physicians
Physicians must complete a residency prior to becoming a
“If you learned what you were supposed to as a resident, you
should have a sufficient knowledge base to perform as a hospitalist,” Nelson
“The upfront investment is low, and you
are not building a practice,” Scheurer said. “You come into a full flight of
patients on Day One.”
Hospital medicine can be short-term or long-term career
Hospitalist jobs can be short-term, as
newly minted physicians figure out what they want to do with their lives, Scheurer
said. And some physicians choose it as a long-term career.
Physicians who would like to try out different facilities
and locations may opt for locum tenens hospitalist positions; these temporary
assignments can sometimes open doors for long-term jobs, as well.
11. Some freedoms are
unique to locum tenens hospitalists
Locum tenens hospitalist assignments offer opportunities to
work part-time in your local area or full-time as a travel assignment.
Clinicians get to choose when and where they work, and their locum agency will
assist with job placements, licensing and credentialing, relocation, and
reimbursements for housing and travel expenses.
12. Nearly 4 out of 5
hospitalists are internists
Most hospitalists (79 percent) specialize in internal
medicine, per the Medscape compensation survey, followed by 20 percent in
family medicine and 1 percent in pediatrics.
Physicians trained in obstetrics, neurology, surgery or
other specialties may choose to care for patients with those conditions
exclusively in a hospital setting, Nelson explained.
According to the 2018 State of Hospital Medicine Report,
published biennially by the Society of Hospital Medicine, 25 percent of
hospitalist groups are now performing work in post-acute settings.
13. Hospital medicine
groups often use block schedules
Many hospitalists work seven 12-hour days on duty followed
by seven days off, but the profession is trying to put into place more
research-based practices, Scheurer said.
Some groups schedule nocturnists
to consistently work the overnight shifts. Otherwise, hospitalists in the group
will rotate to cover night shifts.
14. Variety and
patient acuity among most satisfying aspects of hospitalist jobs
Nelson indicated that many hospitalists enjoy caring for
acutely ill patients rather than managing patients’ chronic conditions over the
long term, as with primary care.
“It’s an ever-changing, fast-paced environment,” Scheurer
said. “Every day is different, it’s never boring and very little down time.”
Additionally, hospital medicine is team based and highly
interactive. Hospitalists usually have fixed shifts, which means they don’t
have to be on call, Nelson added.
Being good at their job was cited as most rewarding by 27
percent of hospitalist respondents to the Medscape survey, followed by
gratitude and relationships with patients.
Among the most dissatisfying aspects of their job, the
report noted that the number of rules and regulations topped the list of
hospitalists’ challenges, cited by 30 percent, followed closely by dealing with
difficult patients at 28 percent.
15. Career paths are
available in hospital medicine
Nearly half (48 percent) of hospitalists surveyed for the
Medscape report expressed an interest in being promoted. More women than men
hospitalists seek upward career opportunities. Front-line physicians practicing
hospital medicine in 2020 can become practice administrators or accept a
leadership position at a hospital or in academia.
“There seems to be a growing trend of hospitalists taking on
some portion of their life in administrative roles,” Scheurer said.
Key Trends in Hospital Medicine
STAFF CARE places
locum tenens hospitalists and other clinicians in top facilities around the
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