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The Rise of the Hyphenated-Hospitalist

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Over the next few blog posts, we’re going to take a look at a developing phenomenon among healthcare specialists, namely the rise of the hyphenated-hospitalist.

“‘Hyphenated-hospitalists’ are cropping up in orthopedics, dermatology, surgery, otolaryngology, oncology, neurology, psychiatry, and gastroenterology,” reports Cheryl Clark in HealthLeaders Magazine.

According to Larry Wellikson, MD, SFHM, chief executive officer of the Society of Hospital Medicine, “This career pathway is emerging for specialists who want to dedicate themselves to hospital-based work, to avoid straddling their day between the office and the hospital.”

Clark gives the example of the impact five OB-GYN hospitalists have had on the delivery of care at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, Wash. These “rotating, full-time obstetrician gynecologist-hospitalists are at the 253-bed hospital,” writes Clark, “‘ready to deliver the baby quickly in crisis’ for any of the 2,200 newborns delivered there each year who may develop fetal distress,” CEO and Chief Mission Officer Nancy Steiger told Clark. “There’s no waiting for the community obstetrician to maneuver through traffic and get to the hospital in time.”

Steiger said these five OB-GYN hospitalists have saved numerous lives at the hospital, not to mention a great deal of money in malpractice claims. Furthermore, over the last three years, “the OB-GYN hospitalists have…reduced the number of elective C-sections and inductions before 39 weeks…and shortened lengths of stay, which improves patient satisfaction.” Recoveries for mothers whose pregnancies took an unusually heavy toll on them are now faster, Steiger added.

Another specialty in which hyphenated-hospitalists are becoming more popular is neurology. Wellikson told Clark that this is mainly because “baby boomers represent a stroke train waiting to happen. So we’re now positioning neurologists in the hospital 24/7 to handle just that. A community neurologist can’t just come in, give the clot-busting drug, and leave for the office. You have to stay there as things evolve.”

In our next post, we’ll take a more in-depth look at the neurologist-hospitalist. In the meantime, are there specialists reading this who are interested in becoming hospitalists? What are the pros you see in accepting such a position? What are some of the cons?

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