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Be There or Be Square


The bomb. The franchise. Sine qua non. Must see. Must be there. How do you say it when something or someone just seems to be in the middle of everything? That is hospital medicine, and that is SHM.

Nowhere was this more evident than at the largest gathering of hospitalists to date, the SHM Annual Meeting held in Chicago at the end of April. If you have a stake in hospital medicine or in building and improving the hospital of the future, all roads led to Chicago and SHM.

Not only was the CME content cutting edge and geared specifically for hospitalists, but also the sessions were greeted with standing room attendance. Clearly we struck a nerve with our 1-day in-depth pre-courses on Perioperative Care and Critical Care. The Practice Management course continues to attract 250 to 300 people as everyone tries to figure out how to get the most out of their hospital medicine group.

"If you have a stake in hospital medicine or in building and improving the hospital of the future, all roads led to Chicago and SHM."

SHM virtually took over the entire Sheraton Hotel in downtown Chicago. Everywhere you looked, all you saw were hospitalists or people who needed to talk to hospitalists. The exhibit hall was sold out, and the networking between all the industries that support and depend on hospitalists continued well beyond the boundaries of the exhibit hall.

The Research Abstract, Clinical Vignette, and Innovation Poster session had almost 200 entries. On display here was the new thinking that is so characteristic of hospital medicine. As much as anything, this gathering displayed the youthful energy and innovation that will continue to propel hospital medicine into the future.

Important people came to be heard and to hear from hospitalists. Dennis O’Leary, the CEO of JCAHO, challenged hospitalists to lead their hospitals into a future with improved measurable quality. Rick Wade, a senior leader at the American Hospital Association, saw hospitalists as key partners with other stakeholders to meet the increasing demands on hospitals to do a better job. Arnie Milstein, the CMO and one of the founders of the Leapfrog Group, placed hospitalists squarely in the center of delivering the effective and efficient health care now demanded by America’s businesses and patients. And our own Bob Wachter challenged hospitalists to continue to lead the patient safety revolution.

But hospitalists did not just come to Chicago to sit and listen. Hospitalists are faced with so many new and difficult challenges that they clearly came to ask questions and give answers. Networking was both informal and formal and almost constant. With hospitalists everywhere you turned it was clear that people were out seeking the next new idea, the solution to a real life problem back home, and maybe even their next job.

The SHM Special Interest Forums were lively and well attended. This is where SHM gets its ideas. This is where hospitalists have their voices heard. This is where the diversity of hospital medicine can be seen up close and personal. The world of the hospital and our specialty looks different if you are a pediatrician or a family practitioner or a woman or an NP or a PA or a group leader or a young hospitalist. The demands, and your needs to meet them, can be different if you are in academics or a community hospital. SHM must hear your perspective and, boy, did we hear from you in Chicago.

For me personally, it was an opportunity to see and talk to over 1000 people connected in some way to the growing hospital medicine movement. Many of the people I spoke with were frontline hospitalists, earnest and dedicated to making hospital medicine their life’s work. They want to work with SHM to create a specialty and a career that is satisfying and fulfilling.

Some were representatives from publishers or pharmaceutical companies or hospitalist staffing and recruitment companies trying to bring their unique take on hospital medicine to SHM’s attention. Some were key leaders of other national healthcare organizations looking to partner with hospital medicine, the fastest growing workforce component of the hospital of the future and a force for change and improvement.

There were so many good ideas flying around that there is enough to keep SHM busy for years to come. And you will be hearing and reading about these in the coming months and years. It is clear that the energy around hospital medicine is not waning any time in the near future. There will be much for us to do. And if the talent and the drive to succeed of those who came to Chicago last month are any indication, SHM and our nation’s hospitalists are up to the challenge. Stay tuned.

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