As hospitalist roles expand, so does their need for better training

Hospitalists continue to grow in ranks--40,000 are expected within the next few years--along with the range of duties they perform. These physicians increasingly are called upon to fill voids in a variety of hospital functions, including patient care and supervisory roles, according to industry experts featured in The Hospitalist.

"They're being asked to do bedside patient care, but they're being asked to do more. They're asked to be systems engineers, they're asked to be safety experts, they're asked to be the information manager, if you will, the IT guys," said Dr. Larry Wellikson, CEO of the Society of Hospital Medicine.

But with these expanded responsibilities comes the need for better training. Hospitalist education programs lack standardization, making it difficult to for these professionals to develop all of the skills needed to practice in a complex environment.

There is "incredible inconsistency from hospitalist to hospitalist in terms of knowledge base, experience and ... understanding the scope of practice," Dr. Frank Michota, director of academic affairs in the Department of Hospital Medicine at The Cleveland Clinic, told The Hospitalist.

Full certification for hospitalists by a hospital medicine (HM) board could close the education gap. However, most aren't betting on a HM certification process by 2025, he said.

The American Board of Internal Medicine's (ABIM) Maintenance of Certification offers a "Focused Practice in Hospital Medicine" pathway for hospitalists. Dr. Wachter, the ABIM's chair-elect, says there will be refinements to that hospitalist pathway, but doubts the field will get its own certification any time soon.

"We're pretty comfortable that we have created a pathway for hospitalists to demonstrate their focus on hospital medicine and their expertise borne of their experience," he said.

For more:
- read The Hospitalist article