Timing is everything. Christopher Columbus, Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman … each benefited from perfect timing and, in turn, helped change the course of history.
HM has had great timing, too. With numbers now estimated at more than 30,000 hospitalists nationwide, HM is systematically changing the way patients are cared for in the hospital. The maturation process is equally evident. In less than two decades, HM has organized annual meetings, developed educational programs, established a peer-reviewed journal, and published core competencies.
The next step in the evolutionary process: the Recognition of Focused Practice (RFP) in Hospital Medicine through the American Board of Internal Medicine’s (ABIM) maintenance of certification (MOC) program. Registration for the RFP in HM should be available by May 2010, with the first MOC in fall 2010.
“The timing is perfect. It’s appropriate,” says Robert Wachter, MD, FHM, chief of the hospital medicine
division, professor, and associate chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, a former SHM president, and author of the blog Wachter’s World. “We knew we needed to ripen and mature. It’s like watching your child growing up: their first steps, first day of school, graduating high school. This has a lot of the same feeling. This is one more statement that the field is real, here to stay, and vitally important to medicine.”
The new pathway to board recertification is as meaningful to HM’s founding fathers as it will be to the next generation of hospitalists. It represents validation to physicians who have chosen a career in HM, and it offers early-career physicians a specialized path to recertification. Moreover, hospitalists agree the RFP in HM provides accountability to the profession and patients.