Trend: Hospitalist ranks exploding

Increasingly, hospitalist physicians are becoming a normal part of the inpatient care routine. Since 1997, the number of hospitalist physicians has exploded, from a few hundred in 1997 to 20,000 today. That's the fastest growth for any medical specialty during that period, according to the Society of Hospital Medicine.  And the growth should continue. By 2010, the Society predicts, there will be 30,000 practicing hospitalists.

What's interesting is not just that the volume of hospitalists who have emerged--it's the forces which have pushed the number upward. At first, hospitalist emergence was fueled by hospitals and managed care groups hoping to improve efficiency by better coordinating inpatient care. Today, however, many primary care physicians are moving to hospitalist roles on their own, which can pay better than going on rounds. Hospitals, meanwhile, are so enamored of the role that they're kicking in big bucks.  Some hospitals, in fact, are paying a substantial $50,000 to $60,000 of the hospitalist's $169,000 average salary.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this article in The Washington Post

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