Home Blog "We’ve come a long way, baby!"

"We’ve come a long way, baby!"

October 2009

"Hospital Medicine—We’ve come a long way, baby!" The arrival of our own board certification, which I believe is completely awesome, spurred me to suggest to SHM that this should be our official slogan for the annual 2010 meeting in Washington.

No takers so far, which is perhaps more than a little understandable given the slogan’s infamous roots. It was 1978—yes, only 1978—when Virginia Slims designed an ad campaign to flog a slimmer, sexier cigarette to women: "Back then, every man gave his wife at least one day a week out of the house. You’ve come a long way, baby. Virginia Slims—Slimmer than the fat cigarettes men smoke." If only the hospitalist movement had started earlier, perhaps we could have been able to prevent such unmitigated stupidity, given our profession’s propensity to cure almost everything else.

And while I am completely off subject on the subject of stupidity in advertising, I would be remiss in not mentioning the dumbest advertisement of all time. Courtesy of the makers of Camels, the formerly named Phillip Morris Company from "back then" brought us the "More Doctors Smoke …" campaign. On second thought, maybe we should be thankful that our specialty was launched more recently; at least no one can accuse us of being party to the smoking doctor’s crusade.

Digressions aside: How completely tremendous it is that our own certification has arrived. As I understand it, our certification—or more specifically, our focused recognition in hospital medicine as part of recertification—will be unique in that eligibility requires not fellowship, but real world experience as a hospitalist.

This is an extremely pragmatic and reasonable idea given the evolution of our specialty. However, and maybe this is a topic for another day, I hope this doesn’t prevent us from revisiting the entire curriculum of internal medicine training for future generations of hospitalists.

So with board certification, hospitalist baby boomers (arbitrarily defined for the sake of this challenged analogy as anyone who began practicing before 2002) have finally arrived at the pinnacle of their careers. How quickly we have all reached middle age! We even have a new title for our lot, appropriately named "senior fellow in hospitalist medicine." (The SHM, which earlier this year named its inaugural class of Fellows in Hospital Medicine, is now taking applications for SFHM or Senior Fellow.) I will likely give this recognition a go, but I have to admit I don’t much like the idea of having the word "senior" as any part of any title attached to my name. Talk about exacerbating my midlife crisis.

And if we needed any further evidence that we have arrived, I recently noted an advertisement in the NEJM in which the nation of Dubai was recruiting for U.S.-trained hospitalists. Having known two subspecialty physicians who spent a few years abroad being showered in cash from oil rich counties, I have to admit this is more than a little intriguing. If they offer a week-on/week-off schedule and are willing to fly me home on my off weeks, I just might apply.

What’s next? Clearly, we will be front and center when health care reform finally arrives (even if true reform is five years off, it is coming). And we will continue to drive the healthcare IT and quality revolution within the hospital. So, we have come a long way baby! I just hope the reward for our specialty continues to be "oh, so much better" than freedom from the aforementioned "fat cigarettes."