Home 2023 Compensation & Career Survey Patient encounters per shift: What’s average for hospitalists?

Patient encounters per shift: What’s average for hospitalists?

This year's survey found hospitalists reported an average of about 16 patient encounters per shift

September 2023

HOSPITALISTS THIS YEAR are reporting a slight drop in their average patient encounters per shift, but the decline is so small that it may not be statistically significant.

This year’s Today’s Hospitalist survey found that all hospitalists who treat adults reported a mean of 16.4 patient encounters per shift. That number was 16.6 in last year’s survey, so the drop is only 0.2 encounters per shift, or a difference of about -1%.

Over the 15 years we’ve been surveying hospitalists, that mean number of patient encounters per shift has been fairly consistent. In our 2014 survey, for example, adult hospitalists reported seeing 16.3 patients per shift.

The slight drop in patient encounters per shift appears in several categories throughout our survey. When looking at data for both academic and nonacademic hospitalists, for example, there’s a similar, but even smaller, drop in the number of patient encounters hospitalists are reporting per shift.

Practice setting and geography
Much of the data in this year’s survey confirm trends we’ve seen over the years. Patient encounters per shift remains highest for hospitalists working at national hospitalist management companies at 18.9. These groups often report the highest patient volumes, although in some years local hospitalist groups have posted slightly higher numbers.

patient-encounter-employer-typeNot surprisingly, patient volumes were lowest among hospitalists working at medical schools and universities. Hospitalists in those settings reported an average of 14.3 patient encounters per shift.

Look at the data by geography, and you’ll see that hospitalists in the South have the most patient encounters per shift (18.3), while those in the Mountain region have the fewest (14.6). Hospitalists in the Pacific region are close behind the Mountain region with 14.7 encounters per shift.


Years in the field
How long hospitalists have been in the specialty doesn’t seem to make a major difference in how many patients they see per shift, but there is some fluctuation.

Hospitalists with three to four years on the job, for example, reported 16.4 encounters per shift. That number drops a little with more experience.

Hospitalists with five to nine years of experience reported 16.5 encounters per shift, while those with 10 to 14 years reported 16 encounters per shift. The number bumps up to 16.2 for hospitalists with 15 to 19 years, and it drops to 15.2 for hospitalists with 20-plus years on the job.

Here are some other data on patient encounters per shift:

Academic hospitalists reported 15.4 patient encounters per shift (a separate category from hospitalists working in medical schools/universities in our survey), while their nonacademic colleagues reported 16.7. That may be in part because academic hospitalists reported shorter shifts (10.8 hours) than nonacademic hospitalists (11.4 hours).

Pediatric hospitalists reported 12.4 patient encounters per shift.

Hospitalists who said that burnout is “very significant” reported 16.7 encounters per shift. Those who reported burnout as “insignificant” had 15.4 encounters per shift.

Hospitalists who said they’re “very satisfied” with their careers reported 15.5 encounters per shift. Those “dissatisfied” had 17.1 encounters per shift.

Hospitalists working seven-on/seven-off had 17.1 encounters per shift, while those working other types of daytime shifts reported 16.

• Finally, nocturnists reported 10.7 encounters per shift.

Look at more data on hospitalist productivity at our 2023 Today’s Hospitalist Compensation & Career Survey coverage.

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