The vast majority of the more than 2,500 attendees last week at SHM's annual meeting in Grapevine, Texas, were already on their way to the airport when one last dedicated group discussed the future of the specialty.
The question-and-answer session took place at the annual SHM Town Hall, a chance for rank-and-file hospitalists to query society board members and leaders. Some 75 people took turns asking about internal-medicine residency programs, the challenges of maintaining robust society chapters, and HM's role in critical-care delivery. But the theme of the session kept coming back to whether hospitalists have a seat at the table in how healthcare reform is implemented.
Board member and former SHM Public Policy Committee chairman Eric Siegal, MD, SFHM, says that the society has quickly risen in stature in policy circles despite being a newer specialty. He adds that the field's prominence and credibility is helped by the recent appointment of Patrick Conway, MD, MSc, SFHM, a pediatric hospitalist and director of hospital medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, as chief medical officer of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
"We punch well above our weight class right now," says Dr. Siegal, a critical-care fellow at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison.
In an interesting twist, James Levy, PA-C, suggested that SHM expand its fellowship programs to nonphysician providers (NPPs) as a way of making them feel more included. Several board members nodded and said they would consider the notion.
"We are actually a big-tent society," says board member Daniel Dressler, MD, MSc, SFHM, associate professor and director of internal-medicine teaching services at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.