Home 2023 Compensation & Career Survey How many patient encounters per shift is reasonable for hospitalists?

How many patient encounters per shift is reasonable for hospitalists?

Data from our latest survey shed some light on the difference between actual and reasonable patient volumes

November 2023
Gettyiimage; FangXiaNuo

MOST HOSPITALISTS think they’re seeing about two patient encounters per shift above what’s reasonable.

According to data from the 2023 Today’s Hospitalist Compensation & Career Survey, nonacademic hospitalists reported an average of 16.7 patient encounters per shift but said that 14.7 is reasonable. That’s a 14% difference.

The numbers were similar for academic hospitalists, who reported an average of 15.4 patient encounters per shift but said that 13.5 is reasonable. That’s also a 14% difference.

The 14% gap repeats the results of our survey last year, although nonacademic hospitalists last year reported 16.8 patient encounters per shift, just a hair higher than this year’s numbers. (See more data on patient encounters from coverage of our 2022 survey results.)

As always, there are big differences in the numbers when employer type is factored into the picture. Hospitalists working at universities and medical schools, for example, said 12.6 patient encounters per shift is reasonable. That’s about 13% lower than the 14.3 encounters per shift that they reported having.

And hospitalists working for national hospitalist management companies reported the highest number for both reasonable and actual patient encounters per shift, but they also reported the largest gap between their actual numbers and what’s reasonable.

While those hospitalists said that 16 encounters per shift is reasonable, they reported actually having 18.9 encounters per shift. That’s a difference of 2.9 encounters per shift—or an 18% gap.

Even some hospitalists who have lower numbers of patient encounters per shift said their volumes are too high. In the Pacific region, for example, hospitalists reported only 14.7 encounters per shift. But hospitalists from the said that 13.3 is a reasonable patient volume. That’s a gap of 11%, not too different from all hospitalists.

And hospitalists in the South, the group with the highest patient encounters per shift at 18.3, said that 15.7 encounters per shift is reasonable. That 17% difference is slightly higher than the gap for all hospitalists, but not by much.

Finally, the group with the lowest number of patient encounters per shift also had the smallest gap between actual and reasonable numbers. Pediatric hospitalists reported an average of 12.4 patient encounters per shift and said that 11.5 is reasonable. That’s a gap of about 8%, the lowest in our survey.

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Ruth Lucci
Ruth Lucci
January 2024 3:07 pm

I would like to see numbers for Nocturnists.
# of admissions in a 12 hour night shift
# of floor patients that nocturnists cover
# of floor/admits when a Nocturnist has a resident and/or nurse practitioner