An optimal hospitalist career track: usually more than patient care alone

John Nelson writes…

It is easy for a hospitalist group leader to focus principally on creating and fine tuning the work schedule, refereeing discussions and disputes with other specialties, and sitting in on many hospital committees.  Yet is important to recognize that these activities aren’t enough to ensure the practice will continue to thrive.  They are important activities to maintain the practice and prevent problems, but they don’t do much to prepare the practice for future challenges.  (I’ve discussed elsewhere that I think it is strange that making and managing the schedule is seen by many hospitalist group leaders as their most important job. While they are responsible for ensuring the group has an appropriate schedule, in many practices I think they should hand off the leg work of creating the schedule to others.)

One activity that is important for hospitalist leaders to include in their list of important roles is working to ensure the practice offers a healthy job description and role for the providers (doctors and non-physician providers) in the group.  Simply showing up each day to see a list of patients wears on many hospitalists after a few years, so it is important that the role offer more opportunities for those who want to take advantage of them.  Some possible roles are:

  • Committee work: either a hospital committee such as pharmacy & therapeutics, or a committee internal to the hospitalist group (such as an executive committee)
  • Medical staff leadership: an elected position such as chairman of the department of medicine or chief of staff, including representation on the Medical Executive Committee
  • Technology initiatives: e.g., physician champion for a new IT system at the hospital, the lead doctor to teach other doctors use of a new CPOE system, or other such activity
  • Employed position in hospital leadership: e.g., chief medical officer or chief quality officer, etc

These are only a few of the possibilities.  My point is that every group leader should encourage, or even require, members of the group to pursue some of these activities as a way to ensure hospitalists are engaged with their work beyond just seeing their list of patients for the day.

And one more activity leaders in many practices should encourage at least one other doctor in the group to pursue is that of future group leader.  Succession planning is often overlooked, but the leader usually will move on to other activities eventually, and preparing another person in the practice to take over that role is worthwhile in many practices.

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