Are Your Hospitalists Bored?

Tips for Job Fulfillment

Here are suggestions from hospitalist group leaders for keeping your group of hospitalists happy on the job:

  • Hold frequent meetings where free discourse is encouraged.
  • Hold social gatherings with hospitalists and their families.
  • Develop a “committee rotation” in which committee posts are matched with physician experience levels, which promotes more involvement beyond seeing patients.
  • Use annual evaluations to assess doctors’ ambitions beyond the clinic, then check in periodically to see whether they’ve pursued those projects or committee work.
  • Have a flexible schedule to allow a doctor with a professional or academic ambition to take time to pursue them.
  • Foster a team atmosphere that encourages doctors to fill in for one another when required.
  • Be aware of “mission creep”—the growing list of hospitalists’ responsibilities—and, if necessary, communicate to administration the need for changes to personnel to meet those demands.
  • When discussing dissatisfaction with a colleague, decide whether it is really a salvageable situation. Sometimes, it’s not.
  • Set the right example. If hospitalists see a leader who works hard and is a team player, they’ll be more likely to do the same and be more satisfied.

The conversation came as a surprise to Len Scarpinato, DO, MS, SFHM. The chief medical officer of clinical development for Brentwood, Tenn.-based Cogent-HMG had sensed something was bothering one of the community hospitalists at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee. When Dr. Scarpinato approached him, the hospitalist told Dr. Scarpinato that he wanted to work as an academic hospitalist.

Dr. Scarpinato encouraged the clinician to try his hand at an academic center on his “off weeks.” The once-discouraged hospitalist stayed with Cogent-HMG, received leadership training, and now is an associate program medical director.

Whether group leaders across the country know it or not, there are hospitalists who are unfulfilled in their careers or dissatisfied with their work. Sometimes a group leader sees the problem coming; sometimes it manifests out of thin air.

A lack of fulfillment in a job can affect patient care. Experts say unhappy hospitalists are less likely to have good rapport with patients, less likely to communicate with the care team, and less likely to follow up on post-discharge lab results. It also hampers the efficacy of a company that frequently has to fill jobs vacated by dissatisfied physicians.

Job fulfillment is a feeling of satisfaction that is related to, but distinct from, burnout (the feeling of being overworked). And while burnout is a topic of widespread concern throughout HM, a lack of job fulfillment is equally important.

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