Show us the Money

At a hefty 291 pages, SHM’s 2005-2006 survey, “The Authoritative Source on the State of the Hospital Medicine Movement,” contains a wealth of detail about hospitalists and their working conditions. Most readers will probably first refer to the compensation and benefits package statistics. But take a closer look: The survey’s chapters and tables yield a depth of even more helpful information.

After reviewing the survey’s “Executive Summary” (available online at the SHM Web site, www.hospitalmedicine.org), Charlene Carroll Clark, MD, a hospitalist at Inpatient Care Service at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis, Ore., says “I think knowledge is always a good thing. Just knowing what is going on in other locations helps us. We can see that we fit right in with the median compensation, and that we are competitive as we recruit.”

It is reassuring, other sources concurred, to see that their hospitalist groups compare favorably with national median salaries and benefits packages. However, some group leaders caution that hospitalists should not benchmark their groups’ professional viability using only compensation and benefits medians. The real worth of the survey’s statistics, they say, will be realized when hospitalists utilize the document as a tool for improving management and care processes at their own institutions.

Indeed, in conversations with SHM leaders and with hospitalists across the country, it becomes clear that the survey has multiple uses, depending on its readers’ specific characteristics. And that’s just what SHM intends, says Joe Miller, SHM senior vice president, who was in charge of the survey project. “Our role was to create more of an almanac and a reference, rather than furnish an interpretation,” says Miller. “I think the real value for people will be in finding the metrics that are descriptive of their particular program.”

Survey Participation Increases

Miller is gratified by the increase in participation since the 2003-2004 SHM survey. Two years ago approximately 300 hospital medicine group (HMG) leaders participated in the survey. This time 396 HMG leaders participated—a 32% increase. Individual hospitalists completing the survey increased by more than 500 over the previous survey to a total of 2,550 individual hospitalist respondents.

“Given the magnitude of this survey, I think we’ve got very impressive representation of the industry,” says Miller. For instance, the regional representation of respondents was almost equally divided: 24% from the East, 26% from the South, 27% from the Midwest, and 22% from the West.

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