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SHM Chooses Greatness

We have reached an important milestone: SHM is 10 years old. As with all such anniversaries, it’s a good a time to reflect upon what we’ve achieved and decide our future objectives.

But to assess SHM’s progress, we must first know more about its past. The society was formed with the following objectives, found in our mission statement and declaration of goals:

Mission Statement

SHM is dedicated to promoting the highest quality care for all hospitalized patients. The society is committed to promoting excellence in the practice of hospital medicine through education, advocacy, and research.


  • Promote high-quality care for all hospitalized patients;
  • Promote education and research in hospital medicine;
  • Promote teamwork to achieve the best possible care for hospitalized patients;
  • Advocate a career path that will attract and retain the highest quality hospitalists;
  • Define the competencies, activities, and needs of the hospitalist community; and
  • Propose, support, and promote changes to the healthcare system that lead to higher quality, more efficient care for all hospitalized patients.

These are commendable goals, indeed. Achieving them is the responsibility of our Board of Directors, which is tasked with providing governance and guiding the society and its members in accordance with these objectives.

How does the SHM and our board make these real-world choices? Let’s take a closer look at the board and its thinking.

SHM’s bottom line is the care of our patients. It is the fundamental goal that sets us apart from for-profit companies where success is measured purely by financial returns. SHM and other medical societies also differ from for-profits in other fundamental ways. Our boards are composed of unpaid volunteers, and our power structures are diffuse rather than concentrated in a single, powerful CEO.

In addition, our board, like the boards of other medical societies, hires the CEO, provides for the election of board officers, and approves and manages the budget. It also supplies the leadership to guide our programs and evaluate our progress toward the goals it has set. Along with our executive staff, the board also oversees all strategic planning, relationships with other organizations, allocation of resources, membership growth, advocacy, and fundraising.

These functions and responsibilities are all attributes of good social-sector organizations. But our board strives for more than that. We want greatness, as defined by business researcher and author Jim Collins, in his monograph Good to Great and the Social Sectors. Assessing greatness, he says, comes down to one critical question: “How effectively do we deliver on our mission and make a distinctive impact, relative to our resources?”

On the Agenda

The SHM Board of Directors agenda is packed with important issues concerning how to advance our program and prioritize our concerns. These questions include:

  • How do we measurably advance quality in the hospital and in related areas such as transitions of care?
  • Does SHM create a foundation?
  • How will SHM promote the hospital medicine research agenda?
  • Does SHM expand its advocacy and lobbying functions to affect public policy?
  • How do we best influence the determination of metrics and performance standards for quality inpatient care related to public reporting and pay for performance programs?
  • What organizations are most important for us to develop and enhance relationships in order to better meet our mission?
  • How do we promote career satisfaction in hospital medicine?
  • How will we address the physician workforce shortage?
  • How will we guide the approval for and creation of a board certification process for hospitalists? How will we extend this to all relevant specialties such as pediatrics and family medicine?
  • Will SHM create a fellowship status in the society?
  • How will SHM best measure and report dimensions of productivity, compensation, and other practice management metrics?
  • How do we effectively develop and train physician leaders today and in the future?
  • How will any of these initiatives be funded?

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