Practice Economics

Spreading Innovation among Hospitalists


As part of an emerging and rapidly growing specialty, academic hospitalists face unique challenges in career advancement. Key mentoring needs, especially developing reputation and relationships outside of their institution, often pose a challenge and were the inspiration for a new paper published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

“Increasingly, we are not having faculty who are going up for promotion and reliably running into challenges around mentorship, national reputation, and having a network outside of their local hospital that is critical for advancement,” says lead author Ethan Cumbler, MD, FHM, FACP, of the Department of Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “Hospital medicine as a movement is built on a foundation of innovation, and so as a specialty, we have a mandate to not only innovate but to disseminate those innovations.”

The model of the visiting professorship described in the paper takes midcareer academic hospitalists and provides an infrastructure for reciprocal faculty exchanges. This provides a forum to increase professional networks.

“We found that both junior faculty and our visiting professors saw value in advancing those goals,” Dr. Cumbler says. “We also saw evidence of the spread of ideas and new shared scholarship derived from having these reciprocal visits.”

This has model relevance for nonacademic hospitals, too. For example, it’d be useful for hospital medicine groups to share ideas with one another, Dr. Cumbler says.

“This is a simple structure, but it’s just like a small pebble thrown into a large body of water can create ripples which affect distant shores—sometimes it’s very simple concepts that are worth pursuing,” he says.


  1. Cumbler E, Herzke C, Smalligan R, Glasheen JJ, O’Malley C, Pierce JR Jr. Visiting professorship in hospital medicine: an innovative twist for a growing specialty [published online ahead of print June 23, 2016]. J Hosp Med. doi:10.1002/jhm.2625.

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