It has been a good year for Eric Howell, MD, FHM. Not only is he the 2009 recipient of SHM’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, but he also is the society’s newest board member.
Dr. Howell, who studied engineering before becoming a hospitalist, is director of the hospitalist division at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore. An SHM member since 2000, he mentors 120 medical students as an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Dr. Howell, who is chair of SHM’s Leadership Committee and a member of the Public Policy Committee, was added to the 12-seat board this spring. Dr. Howell recently spoke to TH eWire about his award and his new position.
Question: What do you hope to accomplish during your SHM board tenure?
Answer:I am passionate about hospital medicine and enjoy advocating for hospitalists. I thought being a board member would be a mix of these two passions. My goal is to help hospitalists improve the care of their patients.
Q: How did you develop this passion for HM?
A: I love fixing broken things—improving on the hospital processes. I am an electrical engineer, and there is no specialty more based on systems improvement than hospital medicine. When I started, hospitalists were the red-headed stepchildren. Now they are implementers of quality improvement. I love patients, but I really love looking at systems and improving them.
Q: What do you see as the future of HM?
A: I hope it becomes a national leader for patients in hospital and quality improvement. I hope we set the stage nationally for changes in healthcare, such as [President] Obama is proposing. Hospitalists as individuals have been instrumental in advocating for patients. I’d like to see hospital medicine become the doctor-patient advocate.