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Some space and some respect

Published in the June 2012 issue of Today's Hospitalist

YOU KNOW THAT HOSPITAL MEDICINE is no longer the new kid on the block when hospitalists who work nights are debating the amenities they would like to see in their break room.

That was my first thought when reading this month's cover story. In it, hospitalists who work nights talk about the features on their wish list for break rooms. The list ranges from a simple couch and desk to a shower, a bed and a fully stocked refrigerator.

Hospitalists point out that other physicians who spend nights in the hospital—think surgeons—typically have call rooms that give them a place to decompress during downtime. In their minds, there's nothing wrong with having a little parity with specialist colleagues who also work nights.

While no one expects to be paid to sleep, hospitalists who work nights say that a place to relax during any lulls in admissions and cross coverage—and maybe even catch some sleep—would go a long way to keeping them alert during overnight shifts. That's particularly true for hospitalists who work nights only occasionally and never fully adjust their body's schedule.

Not everyone buys the argument that hospitalists need a break room. Some counter that because hospitalists are shift workers, they don't deserve a call room of their own.

For some hospitalists, that argument gets at the bigger issue of how the specialty is viewed. And hospitalists, many of whom function as much more than mere shift workers, are sticking up for themselves and explaining why better break rooms translate to better patient care.

That pushback is refreshing to see. Ten years ago, after all, few hospitalists would have been so bold as to ask for better amenities in the hospital. It's also a hopeful sign for hospitalists out there who still don't have a call room—or even an office—of their own.

Edward Doyle
Editor & Publisher

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