“I don’t have to spend time running around from place to place, so I get to spend more time on direct patient care,” he says. “That is a real plus for me.” At the same time, being part of an institution means that “everything happens right away. If someone has chest pains, I’m there in a few minutes. I can order tests, have them done, and get results back quickly.”
Dr. Reinstein likes the control he has over his schedule: “I don’t have the same time pressures that you do in private practice. Basically, by the end of the day, I need to have seen all consults and follow-ups. But I can pace myself.”
He also likes the abundance of educational opportunities he has at Sinai. “I can conduct and participate in educational activities without leaving the building,” he says. He also enjoys working with residents and providing hands-on teaching.
Not having to deal with the business aspects of private practice is another advantage for Dr. Reinstein. “I’m salaried by the hospital, and my position removes me from a lot of the economics of medicine,” he explains. “For example, I complete a billing form on each patient every day, but that’s my only dealing with the billing. I don’t have to worry about census, overhead, hiring or firing staff, or the bottom line.
“You’re not your own boss, and some see this as a disadvantage,” cautions Dr. Reinstein. “A lot people become physicians because they want to be their own boss. This is the antithesis of that. You are part of a company.”
Overall, however, the advantages of hospitalist life far outweigh the disadvantages. “I get a lot of personal satisfaction from my work, I get to work with a consistent team, and I get four weeks of vacation,” he says. He adds that when he goes on vacation, he doesn’t have to worry about his patients. He knows that they are cared for and that his department is running smoothly in his absence.
Despite his enthusiasm for his work as a hospitalist, not all of Dr. Reinstein’s residents follow in his footsteps. “The ambulatory/orthopedic field is very lucrative and more attractive to many,” he says. “Being a hospitalist is not for everyone, and some want the experience of being in private practice.”
The Day Is Done: Satisfaction
“You have to decide how you want to live your life and what you want to do. I follow my own pace,” says Dr. Reinstein. “I do work I love. I collect a steady paycheck and get to focus on caring for my patients.”
His work day is long; but at the end, he gets to go home to his wife of 39 years knowing he made a difference today and that he will return to the same place and work with the same team to make a difference tomorrow. TH
Joanne Kaldy is frequent contributor to The Hospitalist.