SAN DIEGO — Hospital medicine’s annual extravaganza nestled into the southwestern corner of the country in March, with a record 4,000 hospitalists and others expanding their knowledge of clinical care, management, leadership, technology, and quality improvement.
They listened, they laughed, they learned.
Read more about the knowledge, experiences hospitalists shared at HM16.
Between the nitty-gritty of the workshops, expert panels, and forums, three high-profile speakers offered broad and insightful perspectives:
- U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, a hospitalist by training, on his experiences as a hospitalist and his thoughts on the importance of public health in America;
- New SHM President Brian Harte, MD, SFHM, on the role of hospital medicine in cultivating leadership; and
- Hospitalist pioneer Robert Wachter, MD, MHM, on the future of hospital medicine as it reaches its 20th year since he introduced the term “hospitalist” in a New England Journal of Medicine article.
Dr. Murthy, formerly a hospitalist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who in 2009 founded Doctors for America, an organization for healthcare improvement in the U.S., said his career as a hospitalist came as a surprise to him.
“When I was in medical school, I didn’t even know what a hospitalist was,” he said. “When I became a hospitalist, I thought it would be a temporary gig, something I did for a couple of years while I figured out what I really wanted to do. But as it turned out, I really loved what I did as a hospitalist. I love teaching. I love caring for patients. I love being part of a tight-knit team.”
He called good health “the key to opportunity,” explaining health is “intrinsically connected to the American dream.”
Hospitalists can play a role in building a “foundation for health,” he said. Four ingredients to this, he said, are creating a culture in which “healthy is equated with happiness” rather than associated with an attitude of “suck it up and eat your spinach”; changing our environment, such as adding sidewalks to encourage walking, to promote healthy behavior change; focusing on the spirit and mind as well as the body; and cultivating our ability to give and receive kindness, which he called “a source of healing.”
Dr. Harte described hospital medicine as “fertile ground” for leadership development.
“Our day-to-day experiences provide a leadership incubator that really no other specialty can claim,” he said.
He said he hopes that over the next several years, hospitalists and SHM make strides in these areas:
- Continuing and expanding membership;
- Continuing to push members and projects to focus on the Triple Aim, particularly patient- and family-centered care; and
- Better understanding hospitalists’ role in the era of risk.
“We need to clarify our position regarding specialty training and our training programs,” he added.
Dr. Harte recognized that such a discussion can get “difficult and contentious and political,” but that “when we look at what we have to do to be clinically effective, and what our current training programs and family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics provide for us, that gap to me only appears to be increasing.”
He said SHM has and will “continue to step up with curricula to fill those gaps.” However, he also said hospitalists “have to question what is the best way to train physicians for the roles of providers in the acute-care setting.”
Dr. Wachter, keeping his tradition of giving the final talk of the four-day conference, retraced the roots and successes of the field over the last 20 years. It was part history lesson, part report card, and part prognostication.