David Weidig, MD, was there at the beginning. He was one of the first internal medicine-trained physicians to adopt hospital-based practice. He was one of the first to proudly call himself a hospitalist. And, he was one of the first hospitalists to adapt and prosper as a hospitalist group director.
He graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1987, completed medical school at Northwestern University in Chicago in 1991, and trained at Cleveland Clinic and Mercy Hospital in San Diego before taking a position with a “traditional” practice in 1995. It wasn’t long before the gravitational forces of hospital medicine pulled him in. He joined a hospitalist group a year later and assumed his first leadership position in 1998, as director of hospital medicine at Pacific Medical Group in Seattle.
“Hospital medicine was a new concept at the time,” he says. “There were only a few of us in the entire city.”
In 2007, he returned to the Midwest, to the HM group at Aurora Health Care, based in Milwaukee, Wis. As system director of hospital medicine at Aurora, he managed academic and community programs throughout the state, many of which are affiliated with his alma mater. When he joined Aurora, it was made up of one HM group and six full-time physicians. Today, it boasts 13 programs and more than 150 providers.
After eight years at Aurora, Dr. Weidig recently joined Tacoma, Wash.-based Sound Physicians. He will serve as director of their Evergreen Region.
During his two decades as a hospitalist, Dr. Weidig has seen massive changes in both the field of hospital medicine and healthcare. He’s witnessed firsthand the growth in the field, the shift to value and performance in healthcare, and the challenges faced by HM groups large and small, urban and rural, academic and community.
Most difficult is managing the time to teach around other duties of the day. Most rewarding is teaching the concept of not just medicine, but team organization and leadership within the hospital setting.
“We have had successes and failures, and we have learned from our efforts,” he says, adding that his biggest professional reward is “having built a large hospital medicine system, along with the camaraderie and respect for the people who I worked with to do it.”
Dr. Weidig is a longtime SHM member, serving as the SHM Northwest Chapter president from 2005-2007, and currently as a member of SHM’s Multisite Hospitalist Leader Subcommittee. He also is one of seven new members of Team Hospitalist, the volunteer editorial board for The Hospitalist. We chatted with him recently about his interests in hospital medicine and beyond.
Question: Why did you choose a career in medicine?
Answer: Being able to help someone during a serious time of need was a strong initial draw. I was also fascinated by physiology in my undergrad studies, which fit well with the study of medicine.
Q: Was there a single moment you knew “I can do this hospital medicine thing?”
Answer: Honestly, I was a bit put off by the way medical school was taught and some of the attitudes I encountered. It was a much different feel than my undergrad experience, in biochemistry, which I very much enjoyed. I believe it was my fourth-year rotations where I hit a milestone, and a significant increase in confidence about caring for a patient.
Q: What do you like most about working as a hospitalist?
A: I enjoy the acute intervention to rapidly [hopefully] effect an improvement in the patient’s symptoms. I also enjoy the systematic, best-practice approach that the field has developed.