This issue of The Hospitalist marks the beginning of my sixth year as the chief executive officer at SHM. Much has happened at SHM and in our specialty in the last 5 years, and
I thought I would use this space to share with everyone what we have accomplished together and to recognize the many individuals who have made all of this possible.
When I first came to SHM in January of 2000, SHM had two employees, three or four committees, and about 500members. There were estimated to be 1000-2000 hospitalists in the country. SHM did stage an Annual Meeting with 300 attendees and published a newsletter of 16 pages with minimal ad revenue and a circulation of about 1000. SHM had no external grants and limited relationships with industry.
SHM was a fledgling national organization with no local presence. SHM had minimal assets or infrastructure and was very reliant on ACP for support and direction. Most of the innovation and direction fell to a few hospitalists around the country, who, while devoted to SHM (then NAIP) and our specialty, still had a very full plate just doing their day jobs, growing their hospital medicine groups. It was amazing what they had accomplished with minimal staff support or infrastructure.
At the start of the new millennium, SHM didn’t know how many hospitals had hospitalists. There was no data on how hard hospitalists should be expected to work or how much they should be paid. There was limited data on the background or training of those doctors who were going into hospital medicine, and there was no understanding of what the knowledge base was for this new specialty. There was a vague sense that the importance of hospitalists was more than just seeing their own patients, but there was little understanding of what value hospitalists could add to their health communities.
Over the last 5 years, together we have made enormous progress. We have changed our name from the National Association of Inpatient Physicians to the Society of Hospital Medicine to better reflect all the stakeholders in our growing specialty. We have grown our Philadelphia staff to 13 and employ another five staff in Boston, Atlanta, and California. The Hospitalist newsletter is now the recognized publication in hospital medicine with 65-80 pages per issue, 2-3 supplements each year, and a circulation well over 10,000. There are more than $75,000 in recruitment ads in each issue, as much a testament to the growth of the specialty as anything else.
SHM’s Annual Meeting now attracts almost 1000 attendees and is the primary networking opportunity for the fastest-growing medical specialty. SHM has almost 5000 members, and there are an estimated 10,000-12,000 hospitalists now practicing in over 1500 hospitals. SHM currently has more than 40 local chapters meeting at least once a year throughout the country.
SHM has developed unique expertise in the management aspects of hospital medicine and holds practice management courses at least three times each year. In addition, SHM has realized that hospitalists will need to be the leaders of the hospitals of the future and has created Leadership Academies to train these future leaders. SHM has worked with grants from the Hartford Foundation to establish the hospitalist as the physician for the acutely ill elderly. SHM is working with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and others in helping to create the physical design of the hospital of the future.