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Hospitalist Jill Slater Waldman, MD, SFHM, Watched the Field Grow Up But Thinks Peers Deserve More Credit


Jill Slater Waldman, MD, SFHM, loved math and science and working with people, so a career in medicine was always the logical choice. She just didn’t want to leave a hospital, literally. So when she was finishing her internal medicine residency in 1994 at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y., internal medicine (IM) suddenly appealed.

Jill Slater Waldman, MD, SFHM

Jill Slater Waldman, MD, SFHM

“I started seeking any job that would be ‘all in house,’ with no outpatient or clinic time,” Dr. Waldman says. “I was informed those jobs did not exist, so I joined the faculty of Albert Einstein College of Medicine with a dual appointment in emergency and internal medicine.”

Fast-forward through a few IM positions at New York State hospitals, and she landed the directorship of the adult hospitalist program at Nyack (N.Y.) Hospital. Two years later, she left for her current post, director of the adult hospital service at Phelps Memorial Hospital Center in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.

A crowded résumé got an extra line this year as Dr. Waldman is one of eight new members of Team Hospitalist, The Hospitalist’s volunteer editorial advisory board.

Question: Tell us about your training years.

Answer: I initially matched in anesthesia but within two weeks realized the pre-ops and post-ops were my favorite visits. I went back to complete my IM residency, doing multiple extra months of ICU night float to avoid having to go to continuity of care clinic.

Q: Did you have a mentor during your training or early career? If so, who was the mentor, and what were the most important lessons you learned from him/her?

A: My mentor was undoubtedly my internship coordinator, who allowed me back to complete my IM training when I realized anesthesia was not for me. He is a special man, incredibly brilliant, and committed to the art and science of medicine. He taught his staff to always act like a physician, always have respect for yourself and the patients, and to take no shortcuts. He is the brightest physician I likely have ever met, and I am lucky to have been hired by him to run his hospital medicine program as a senior attending.

Q: Have you tried to mentor others?

A: I enjoy mentoring junior faculty, house staff, and students. I just returned from a medical mission during which I supervised three fantastic medical students—one of whom was my own daughter.

Q: What do you like most about working as a hospitalist?

A: The variety of patients we get to interact with and the variety of pathology we see.

Q: What do you dislike most?

A: Raw beets and egotistical consultants who treat hospitalists like house staff.

Q: How many Apple products do you interface with in a given week?

A: Two.

Q: What impact do you feel those devices and ones similar to them have had on HM and medicine in a broader sense?

A: I believe they have enabled channels of communication and allowed the public to become more knowledgeable medically.

Q: What’s the best advice you ever received?

A: Do unto others as you wish others to do unto you.

Q: What’s the worst advice you ever received?

A: “There’s no way you can be both a mother and a doctor. Pick one.”

Q: What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in HM in your career?

A: The evolution of HM as a true specialty, requiring a skill set of its own to be a hospitalist.

Q: What’s the biggest change you would like to see in HM?

A: More respect for the field and understanding of our skill set and knowledge base.

Q: As a group leader, why is it important for you to continue seeing patients?

A: As a director, I believe keeping my skill set current is important for myself as well as my partners. I have always said I would never ask them to do something I would not do, so I get to practice what I preach. I also think it enables me to keep perspective when discussing plans with administration or reviewing complaints.

Q: As a hospitalist, seeing most of your patients for the very first time, what aspect of patient care is most challenging?

A: You are meeting a person on what is likely the worst day of their life. Trying to find the best approach for each individual is still a challenge.

Q: What aspect of patient care is most rewarding?

A: Seeing the relief on a patient’s face when you tell them they will get better and explain their treatment plan.

Q: Are you on teaching service? If so, what aspect of teaching in the 21st century is most difficult? And what is most enjoyable?

A: Teaching in the 21st century is challenging with all the new regulations. We have a family physician residency at our hospital, and the blind dedication we had as residents is just not present in a group of physicians who have grown up with duty hour restrictions and protected time.

Q: What is your biggest professional reward?

A: Our group has virtually no attrition and has been intact for more than five years.

Q: You received your SFHM designation five years ago. What does that public recognition mean to you?

A: It was a mark of respect and recognition for expertise in this new field. A very proud moment.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

A: Hopefully, working as a part-time nocturnist two nights per week and caring for some grandbabies and going on medical missions. TH

Richard Quinn is a freelance writer in New Jersey.

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