4) Seek mentors: Having mentors from your prior program and your new program is a key to a healthy and happy career. Choose people you respect and pick their brains about their careers, how they acquired their skills, and how they would advise you to do the same. Good mentors will help you for many years, and the most valuable may be the ones who have known you throughout your residency. Nurture and maintain these relationships even if you are moving on to new horizons. Inquire whether your new program has a mentorship structure or if your new group leader can recommend someone who shares common interests and goals.
5) Study SHM’s Core Com-petencies: Although you may have trepidation about your medical skills and knowledge as you move into uncharted waters, step back and relax. Know that you are prepared. That said, you can always learn more. One excellent resource is The Core Competencies in Hospital Medicine: A Framework for Curriculum Development (available on SHM’s Web site, www.hospitalmedicine.org). This is a set of standards with which programs can teach hospital medicine and you can learn the scope of expectations and competencies for someone in your position.
6) Understand the nuts and bolts of your new program: Although there are many things you will learn on the job, gain an appreciation for some of the following before your first day:
- Billing: If this is your responsibility, you need to learn a little about this before you start, preferably from one of your future colleagues.
- Reimbursement structure: Find out how your productivity is tracked and rewarded. You’d be amazed how variable this can be.
- Time allotment: How are administrative, research, committee and teaching time balanced against your clinical time?
7) Get to know your new hospital: Before hitting the wards it pays to do a little homework on your new workplace. Do you have access to a medical library, journals, UpToDate, or other online databases? If not, do you need to purchase this access on your own? Many programs have academic funds allotted so you can use those resources. Also, familiarize yourself with the local antibiogram, formularies, guidelines, and order sets. Most facilities have tools specific to their hospital. Know how these affect you in your new role. Prior to starting, you will also want to be sufficiently oriented to any computer systems and understand how they’re used for documentation and order entry, and for viewing lab, radiology, and microbiology results.
8) Shadow a hospitalist: Spending a few hours with someone during a typical hospitalist work day will give you an idea of the pace of the work, the layout of the hospital and floors, the medical and ancillary staff you will work with, and the patient population. This will prompt questions you hadn’t thought of previously.
9) Prepare for each specific role: Hospitalists wear many hats, including teaching attending, non-teaching attending, consultant, researcher, committee member, and hospital medicine leader. Each role carries specific responsibilities and expectations. Prior to each new role, train with someone who leads that service or knows the job intimately.
10) Comprehend your benefits: Does your employer have a retirement program? Do they match retirement contributions? How does the malpractice insurance work? A meeting with human resources will usually help you arrange your health, dental, malpractice, and disability insurance prior to your start date. TH
Dr. Chacko is chair of SHM’s young physician committee and the hospitalist program medical director for Preferred Health Partners in New York City. Dr. Markoff is an assistant professor of medicine and associate director of the hospitalist service at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Dr. Sliwka is a hospitalist and assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center.