Family physicians: shut out of certification?

March 2007

I read the article "Hospital medicine moves toward its own brand of recertification" with great interest. I have been a full-time hospitalist for almot three years and am confident that hospital medicine is headed toward becoming its own specialty.

I am, however, board certified in family practice. While your article discussed the American Board of Internal Medicine’s efforts to craft a credential for hospital medicine as a subset of internal medicine, it did not address how hospitalists who are not part of internal medicine certification can receive the credential.

I realize that only a small number of hospitalists are not internists, but I am dismayed to see issues that are important to non-internal medicine trained hospitalists not being addressed.

I am also disturbed by the fact that the majority of recruitment ads in your publication as well as in others seek "IM BC/BE only" hospitalists. Many institutions, especially university-affiliated hospitals, are more willing to hire physicians fresh out of residency who have no experience but were trained as internists than an experienced hospitalist trained as a family practitioner.

How are recent graduates of family practice residencies supposed to find positions if they decide to work as a hospitalist rather than in an outpatient setting?

James W. Lim, MD
Woodland Hills, Calif.

Editor’s note: According to officials of the American Board of Family Practice (ABFP), the board has been in discussions with both the ABIM and the American Board of Pediatrics for more than a year. While the ABFP has yet to announce final details, it expects to be able to offer a focused recognition credential in hospital medicine similar to ABIM’s as part of its maintenance of certification program.