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Age is relative

May 2011

Published in the May 2011 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

This month’s cover story takes a look at an issue that you don’t hear much about in hospital medicine: how to reward senior physicians for their experience.

In a specialty as young as hospital medicine, the word “senior” is relative. But take a look at the numbers, and you’ll see that hospital medicine has its share of seasoned doctors.

Our annual survey found that the average age of hospitalists is just over 42, but that number doesn’t tell the full story. About 28% of hospitalists are between ages 36 and 40, while about 20% are between 41 and 45. But what I found surprising was that one-third of hospitalists said they were 46 or older.

With those demographics in mind, this month’s cover story focuses on how hospitalist groups are rewarding experienced hospitalists. These groups want to do right by their most veteran doctors, and they want to make sure they don’t lose them.

Not everyone, however, thinks that rewarding hospitalists for their experience is a good idea. And our coverage finds this twist in how groups are trying to hang on to their most experienced physicians: The hospitalists they’re defining as “veterans” tend to have only two or three years of experience.

I guess that in a young specialty like hospital medicine, two or three years is the equivalent of 10 or 15 years in other specialties and professions. As the field continues to mature, questions of whether to reward “and how to retain “”senior” physicians, even if those physicians are only 34, may continue to grow.

edoyleEdward Doyle
Editor & Publisher