A standard internal medicine residency program will only take you only so far in teaching you to be a hospitalist. The rest is up to you. “There have been some changes in resident training,” says Vineet Arora, MD, MA, assistant professor of medicine and associate program director, Internal Medicine Residency Program at the University of Chicago. “Future hospitalists should consider how current resident training may or may not help prepare them for a hospital medicine career.”
Given this advice, residents who plan to enter hospital medicine must be especially proactive in shaping their education, experience, and skills. The steps outlined here can serve as a general guide.
—Vineet Arora, MD, MA
Six Ways to Shape Your Residency Toward Hospital Medicine
1) Find a mentor: Your first step is to find a professor or working hospitalist who can help you plan and carry out your education. “Training to become a hospitalist is more than just being a super-resident,” explains Dr. Arora. “It carries special competencies.”
A hospitalist mentor can help you understand what your program does and does not offer, and how to accumulate the best knowledge and skills for a career in hospital medicine.
2) Practice applicable procedures: It’s important to note that your program’s procedures requirements may not be adequate for some hospitalist positions. This can hold true even for residency programs that follow the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) procedural requirements.
“There’s been a change in procedural requirements in the last year,” says Dr. Arora. “Although the Board says you must be able to know, understand, and explain certain procedures it does not require that you perform these procedures competently. So, residents no longer need to demonstrate these procedures. If your program has adopted these requirements, you’ll be at a disadvantage in your job search.”
Check with your residency program director on your program’s requirements and how they match procedure requirements of your future employer. “I don’t think it should be a requirement for hospitalists, but it’s good to have,” says Bradley T. Rosen, MD, MBA, Division of General Internal Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, of the required procedures. “It depends on where you’re going to practice hospital medicine. In smaller, less urban hospitals and in less densely populated areas, the more versatile the hospitalist will have to be. The less support you have in terms of subspecialties, the more important it is to do procedures. Many hospitalists [in these environments] manage patients in the ICU—those patients need a lot of procedures.”
Every hospital will have its own credentialing criteria, but most match the ABIM requirements. “You’d have to know when you’re applying what you have and what you need,” says Dr. Rosen. “If you’re adept at doing procedures, that gives the advantage to you in a job search.”
Regardless of what type of hospital medicine position you want, document every procedure you do in residency. “Consider keeping a log book of your procedures to make sure they meet requirements for hospital credentialing committees,” advises Dr. Arora. “If you want to be a successful, competitive hospitalist [candidate], you have to keep a log book to prove your procedure experience.”
The good news is that if you need more experience with procedures for a certain position, you can get it on the job. “If you meet the hospital’s criteria you can be hired with basic privileges, then be given temporary privileges to perform certain procedures with proctoring, before those privileges become permanent,” says Dr. Rosen. “The ABIM requirements will get you in the door at most hospitals for those procedures.”