In 2019-2020, RUSM achieved a 95.2% First Time Residency pass rate and 96.7% USMLE Step 1 Pass Rate. With a network of 15,000+ alumni, Ross University School of Medicine is one of the largest provides of doctors to the entire U.S. healthcare system. Located on the island of Barbados, RUSM graduates practice in 954 counties, in all fifty states, and Puerto Rico.
What is a Hospitalist?
If you want to help people in a wide variety of ways and you find the hospital environment invigorating, then you may consider a career as a hospitalist. You may be wondering: what is a hospitalist? A hospitalist is a doctor who works exclusively in a hospital. As an internal medicine hospitalist—the most common type—you will provide general medical care to hospitalized patients. Aside from clinical care, hospitalists also teach, do research, and work to improve hospital and healthcare system performance. If you are considering a career as a hospitalist, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you fascinated by the fast-pace hospital environment?
- Do you want to provide a wide range of care to a wide range of patients?
- Do you want a field that offers professional challenges and specialized options?
- Are you passionate about helping people with chronic health problems?
- Do you want a career in one of the newest and most in-demand fields of medicine?
- Do you want to do research, visit patients in wards, and work in the intensive care unit all in one day?
If your answer to these questions is “yes,” then a career as a hospitalist may be the right path for you.
What Does a Hospitalist Do?
Compared to other specializations, hospital medicine—the practice of medicine specifically in a hospital—is practically brand new. The term hospitalist was coined only in 1996, and the Society of Hospital Medicine was formed a year later in 1997. Many hospital patients may be surprised to learn that the doctor caring for them is most likely a hospitalist.
The need for such a specialty emerged from increasingly complex hospital patient cases. These cases required physicians who could dedicate their time to hospital patients rather than doctors who might visit only when not managing ambulatory care or other obligations. This need for easier accessibility combined with desires for greater efficiency and lower hospital costs to produce the new field of hospital medicine.
Hospitalists specialize on a site of care—the hospital—rather than an organ—such as a pulmonologist—a disease—such as an oncologist—or a patient’s age—such as a pediatrician. Pulmonological, oncological, and pediatric hospitalists exist, but most hospitalists specialize in family or internal medicine.
Hospitalists can serve patients in a wide variety of ways, from the emergency room to critical care to post-operative or post-acute care. Hospitalists may also perform diagnostic exams, procedures, or tests. Hospitalists may become experts in certain types of injuries or maladies as they treat similar conditions over and again.
Because hospitalists see a wide number of patients, and most only for short periods, they do not develop long-term patient relationships the way primary physicians do. Hospitalists do, however, communicate with the patients as well as their families, often delivering anxiously awaited news.
Aside from general medical care, hospitalists have further duties that many other doctors do not. A hospitalist is well-versed in hospital policy and may serve on various committees. Hospitalists may take on leadership roles or be involved in increasing efficiency and reducing medical errors or improving overall safety and quality of care. Responsibilities also include preparing patients to leave the hospital and reducing the length of stay: shorter stays reduce hospital costs.
Hospitalists treat injuries and illnesses that are serious enough to bring people to the hospital. They commonly deal with:
- Bone fractures
- Head trauma
- Joint sprains
- Pre- and post-operative care
Many hospitalists are also active in academic circles and participate in conferences and publications dedicated to advancing medical knowledge and therapeutic options.
How To Become A Hospitalist?
You may be wondering: how do you train to be a hospitalist? A hospitalist must first become a medical doctor by graduating from a four-year medical school—such as the Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM). Most future hospitalists then complete a residency in emergency medicine, internal medicine, or family practice.
Board certification in hospital medicine is generally not required to be a hospitalist, but certification is offered by the American Board of Hospital Medicine. The American Board of Internal Medicine certifies doctors in “Internal Medicine with a Focused Practice in Hospital Medicine,” and the American Board of Family Medicine offers a “Designation of Focused Practice in Hospital Medicine” certification.
Most hospitalists are qualified in internal medicine, but the numbers of pediatric, geriatric, and other types of hospitalists are growing. Locum tenens hospitalists work temporary assignments in hospitals as independent contractors, while some hospitalists break the mold by working in universities or hospitalist group medical practices. Hospitalists may fill a specific niche in a hospital and earn additional titles:
- Admitologist or Admitter (only admits patients)
- Neurohospitalist (cares for patients with neurological problems)
- Nocturnist (works overnight)
- Proceduralist (primarily performs procedures)
- Rounder (only sees admitted patients)
- Surgicalist (a surgeon who only works in the emergency department of a hospital)
Why Do Hospitals Use Hospitalists?
Unlike primary physicians, hospitalists do not have office hours and usually work varying shifts. Most time is spent caring for patients, but many hours are spent doing laboratory work or performing procedures. Meetings and administration tasks absorb a lot of time, and hours are also spent consulting with specialists and nurses, doing research, studying, and teaching. Many hospitalists work 12-hour shifts and many work time blocks—such as seven days on, seven days off. Unlike many doctors, most hospitalists are not on-call during their time away from work. Hospitalists can have a great impact on a patient’s hospital stay as well as the overall function of their hospital.
Demand for Hospitalists
Hospital medicine is currently the fastest growing medical specialty in the United States. Many internal medicine physicians are choosing to become a hospitalist, as opposed to a primary care physician. With the number of people being hospitalized increasing, patients require a physician that can provide consistent care and help them navigate through their hospital stay.
In 2020, hospitalists were on the front line during the COVID-19 pandemic, and hospitals were often hard-pressed to staff the constant hospitalist rotations. In many cases, hospitalists were pressed into unfamiliar duties as COVID-19 patients overwhelmed hospitals worldwide. Many hospitalists are now experts in caring for people with COVID-19.
Unlike physicians in other medical specialties, hospitalists are not an aging population. According to an annual survey conducted by Today's Hospitalist, about 28% of hospitalists are between ages 36 and 40, while about 20% are between 41 and 45. This is largely due to the fact that hospital medicine has only been around for two decades.
The Ross University School of Medicine has a strong history of placing graduating students in internal medicine residencies. In 2020, RUSM’s 2019-2020 first-time residency attainment rate was 95 percent. Take the next step toward becoming a hospitalist: apply for admission to RUSM.