Home From The Editor How will your career choices affect the hospitalist workforce?

How will your career choices affect the hospitalist workforce?

September 2007

Published in the September 2007 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

Do you know what your career as a hospitalist will look like five or 10 years from now?

Because hospital medicine is such a relatively new specialty, that’s a question that many physicians probably haven’t thought about. But the dual issues of career longevity and sustainability are increasingly on the radar screens of not only veteran hospitalists looking for change, but programs that are searching for ways to retain the know-how of their senior physicians.

The question of how to build a career that will keep a physician’s interest and attention over the long run is a critical one. That’s because it applies not only to individual programs, but the specialty as a whole. If hospital medicine is going to continue to grow and mature, it needs to find ways to retain the expertise of its veteran practitioners.

One of the most obvious ways to keep senior physicians’ interest is to give them career paths that allow them to grow professionally. As this month’s cover story explains, Emory University in Atlanta is helping its physicians do just that. Over the last few years, several of its hospitalists have embraced duties and positions that have taken them away from the bedside in varying degrees.

The hospitalist program at Emory appears to be taking an enlightened approach to the issue of career sustainability. Its administrators recognize the value of making sure that they hang onto their most experienced hospitalists, even if that means helping those physicians transition out of full-time clinical care.

The upside of that approach? Junior physicians will realize that hospital medicine is a sustainable, open-ended career, and more will enter the field.

The reality is that the workforce is so strained that some hospitalist programs may not be willing to encourage their physicians to find new, nonclinical duties. As a short-term solution to staffing woes, that approach makes sense. From a long-term perspective, however, it may do more harm than good.

Edward Doyle
Editor and Publisher