Hospitalist Job Information

In less than 20 years, the hospitalist job has become one of the fastest growing healthcare professions. The term "hospitalist" is still new to the general public. In this article, we'll take a look at exactly what a hospitalist is, what one does and other facts about the job.

Definition

A hospitalist is a general physician who cares for hospitalized patients. The hospitalist's only concern is with patients in a hospital, they do not work out of a clinic or a private practice. Basically, the hospitalist assumes a hospitalized patient's care in place of the patient's primary care physician.

The hospitalist definition was coined by Drs. Robert Wachter and Lee Goldman in a 1996 edition of The New England Journal of Medicine. Since that time, the field has exploded into popularity and has revolutionized the way patients are treated. By having hospitalists look after hospitalized patients, the primary care physicians can spend time more efficiently looking after patients in their own offices. This reduces the amount of hours primary care physicians work and may also improve preventative care.

Duties

A hospitalist consults with a patient's primary care physician to understand the patient's needs. He may also speak with specialists treating that patient. In this way, a coordinated treatment program is created, but it is the hospitalist who implements it. For example, if a patient is getting a heart operation, but has other conditions like diabetes or COPD, the hospitalist makes sure the diabetes and COPD are taken care of so the surgeon can focus solely on the operation.

Most hospitalists (but not all) have a background in internal medicine. They are also experts in how their particular hospital operates and can help the patient navigate the healthcare system. They know who to call and how to get things done. This results in lower staying times and increases hospital efficiency. Many hospitalists also work in groups to provide maximum coverage.

Hospitalist work hours can vary quite a bit. Many will work a 10 to 12 hour shift for several days but then have a number of days in a row off. The work schedule would include nights, weekends and holidays. It is not unusual for an experienced hospitalist to work a "one week on, one week off" schedule. This is one of the major advantages of the hospitalist system.

Salary and Opportunities

Hospitalist salaries are very good. They range from $195,000 a year at the low end to $226,000 a year at the high end. Those hospitalists willing to work the night shift only can expect to make more. Keep in mind that these figures hold true even if you are working the "one week on, one week off" schedule.

The demand for hospitalists is explosive. Many hospitals are actively recruiting for hospitalists to join their team. An experienced physician who puts his resume on an internet hospital job site seeking a hospitalist position is likely to find his inbox swamped by requests. The American Board of Hospital Medicine and the Society of Hospital Medicine are two professional hospitalist organizations that can help a hospitalist find jobs.

An excellent website for finding hospitalist and other healthcare jobs is www.hospitaljobsonline.com