For hospitalist Robert Wachter, MD, MHM, the next annual SHM meeting will be particularly poignant, and not just because he’s HM11’s featured speaker.
Next year will mark the 15th anniversary of the New England Journal of Medicine article coauthored by Dr. Wachter that introduced the term “hospitalist” to the American healthcare lexicon. The specialty is growing and developing into adulthood nicely, he says, which will be part of his presentation in Grapevine, Texas.
“At age 15, that’s when you move to adolescence—you’re going to be off on adulthood and on your own,” says Dr. Wachter, professor, chief of the Division of Hospital Medicine, and chief of the Medical Service at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center, former SHM president and author of the blog Wachter’s World (www.wachtersworld.com).
Like a proud father, Dr. Wachter expects that he will reminisce about the past, speculate about HM’s bright future, and encourage hospitalists to continue their work.
“This will be an optimistic talk,” he says. “The growth has been extraordinary.”
At the outset of the specialty, Dr. Wachter says, he and colleagues predicted some of the current trends, but they underestimated how powerful some would become.
“We couldn’t have predicted that the pressures to increase quality and safety would be as intense as they are today, but we did a good job believing that these areas were important before they hit,” he says.
Looking forward, he says, other emerging forces will join quality and safety at the forefront of HM. “The next five years will likely bring similar pressures on efficiency and throughput,” he says. “I’m going to encourage folks to stay ahead of the curve.”
Having attended every annual conference since the beginning, Dr. Wachter looks forward to “polar things” about each meeting: catching up with the founders of the movement and seeing new faces.
“What’s more fun for me is the amount of youthful energy at the meetings,” he says, especially of the hospitalists he has mentored over the years. “When I come with my group from UCSF, it gives me tremendous pride.” TH
Brendon Shank is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia.