Among our peers in healthcare, this diversity opens up opportunities for even more physicians and clinicians to work as hospitalists and improve care delivery in America’s hospitals. For instance, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and SHM recently endorsed the growing contribution of hospitalists trained in family medicine. Together, our two organizations stated that “the opportunity to participate as a hospitalist should be granted to all physicians commensurate with their documented training and/or experience, demonstrated abilities and current competencies.”
SHM is stronger when we can draw upon a membership of varying types of training, opinions, and expertise in developing initiatives and educational programs in support of our mission to promote exceptional care for hospitalized patients. Diverse membership also provides an additional level of authority to our organization and is one of the reasons we are often invited to Washington, D.C., to testify in front of Congress about various medical topics. Because we represent many constituencies among physicians and maintain close working relationships with clinical and business leaders throughout the hospital, we can provide unique insight into healthcare reform, quality initiatives, and other issues shaping the healthcare industry today.
Although we are seeing the increasing diversity in the hospital medicine field play out in SHM membership, many specialty hospitalists, advanced practice providers, and even family medicine and pediatric physicians don’t yet consider SHM a professional “home.” And our membership ranks represent only a fraction of the hospitalists practicing across the country.
One of the goals for my presidency is to help spread the word that SHM isn’t just for internal medicine hospitalists—though they certainly make up a majority of our membership and we owe them a debt of gratitude for getting us to where we are today—but for all providers involved in the hospital-based care of patients. We are an organization that truly represents all of the professionals across the continuum of hospital-based medicine. We can be a valuable professional resource for the growing number of physicians, advanced practice providers, administrators, and other care providers who choose to focus their careers on the care of hospitalized patients.
Though I happened into the hospital medicine field by chance, making my career in the field was no accident. I’m proud to work in a specialty that is so uniquely positioned to enhance the care and experience for hospitalized patients. I’m excited to see so many providers from various fields of medicine choosing hospital-based practice.
I hope the trend will continue and that our organization will have the opportunity to welcome many of them in the months ahead.
Dr. Harrington is chief medical officer at Reliant Post-Acute Care Solutions in Atlanta, Ga., and president of SHM.