What is a Hospitalist?

A hospitalist is a physician whose focus is the general medical care of hospitalized patients. Their duties include patient care, teaching, research, and leadership related to hospital medicine.

Hospitalists can come from any medical background. Most have completed a residency in internal medicine, family medicine, or pediatrics. However, there are now a growing number of 'specialty' hospitalists practicing psychiatry, obstetrics, orthopedics, and general surgery all within the realms of the hospital.

What does a Hospitalist do?

Unlike primary care doctors, hospitalists generally have short-term relationships with their patients. Despite this, they benefit from the satisfaction of caring for people during some of the most difficult times of their lives. Hospitalist care is especially important for patients who don't have a family doctor to admit them or to visit them while in the hospital.

A hospitalist standing in a hospital corridor.

A typical physician will divide their time between the hospital and the office. Hospitalists, however, only specialize in the care of hospitalized patients, which has certain advantages.

These physicians have more experience in caring for complicated hospitalized patients on a daily basis, and are more available during the day to meet with family members. They are also able to follow-up on tests, answer any questions the nurses may have, and deal with any problems that may arise. If need be, a hospitalist may see patients more than once a day to make sure that care is going according to plan, and to explain test results to patients and family members.

Hospitalists also coordinate the care of patients in the hospital by organizing the communication between different doctors caring for a patient, serving as the point of contact for other doctors and nurses for questions, updates, and plan of care. They are also the main contact for family members with updates on their loved ones.

Because hospitalists work on-site, they are able to look at test results and promptly order any necessary follow-up tests. Since their office is the hospital, they are more familiar with the hospital's policies and activities, and are involved in various hospital committees. They work behind the scenes to assist in improving efficiency, patient safety, patient care, medical errors, infection control, and fostering teamwork and communication between physicians and staff.

Are you suited to be a hospitalist?

Hospitalists have distinct personalities. They tend to be social individuals, which means they’re kind, generous, cooperative, patient, caring, helpful, empathetic, tactful, and friendly. They excel at socializing, helping others, and teaching. Some of them are also investigative, meaning they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive.

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What is the workplace of a Hospitalist like?

Hospitalists are typically employed by individual hospitals, larger medical networks, or multi-specialty group practices that provide staffing to their hospital clients. They may work a portion of their shifts in nursing homes and rehabilitation hospitals, which provides the opportunity to follow their patients from short to longer-term care.

Some hospitalists may choose to work seven 12-hour shifts in a row followed by a full week off, while others work Monday through Friday every week. Still others will work a few 24-hours shifts each week.

Hospitalists are also known as:
Hospital Physician