Practice Economics

Career Challenge


Whether it’s directing a quality-improvement initiative on the hospital floor, training new recruits, or presenting metrics to hospital administrators, demonstrating leadership is a key competency for hospitalists. And, despite how it looks in the movies, most leaders are trained, not born.

That’s the foundation of SHM’s Leadership Academy program, a series of intense, four-day programs designed specifically to help hospitalists develop their leadership skills in a hands-on environment.

The demand for continued leadership training has been so high that SHM has developed a third leadership course for hospitalists who have completed either of the original tracks. CME credits are available for all three Leadership Academy course levels.

Chapter Updates

Low Country South Carolina Chapter

The chapter joined forces with CME University and conducted a CME event Aug. 14 in Charleston, S.C. Attendees listened to Dr. George Karam and Dr. Steven Deitelzweig speak on MRSA infections, VTE prophylaxis, and hyponatremia. The discussion was very focused on the hospitalist, and the Q&A format allowed for more audience interaction. Pre- and post-questionnaires were distributed to help outline the objectives of each topic.

Connecticut Chapter

The chapter met June 3 at Thali in New Haven, Conn., and featured two speakers. Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, an internal medicine physician and founder of Doctors for America, spoke about his role in shaping healthcare reform legislation. There are about 50 million uninsured Americans and about 14,000 Americans losing their health insurance each day, he said. He also discussed the variety of reasons why the AMA pushed back against universal health insurance. He finished his speech by describing what the new health reform has in store for hospitals, and noted that there are more doctors involved in advocacy than ever before.

Amir Jaffer, MD, FHM, division chief of hospital medicine at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, discussed several cases about anticoagulation, including some pre-op and post-op scenarios.

The meeting concluded with a discussion about SHM membership and leadership of the Connecticut chapter.

The new course, March 11-14 at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, will follow the same four-day format as its predecessors. For updates and to register, visit the “Hospitalist Leadership Academies” page of the SHM website,

“This is about building skills and growing momentum,” says Tina Budnitz, MPH, senior advisor for quality initiatives at SHM. “Participants walk away from Leadership Academy with newfound tools and the motivation to use them to lead important projects in their hospital.”

For Budnitz, the new academy course is a natural extension of the existing program. “Developing leadership skills is an ongoing process, so it makes sense to provide new material and new insights to hospitalists,” she says.

A Better Way to Communicate

The new course will bring in leadership experts and will help established leaders manage their hospitalist teams, says Leadership Committee chair Patience Agborbesong, MD, SFHM, who plans on attending the Las Vegas academy.

“It came into being because people were asking about other topics,” says Dr. Agborbesong, lead hospitalist at Wake Forest Inpatient Physicians in Winston-Salem, N.C. “We were getting the same questions from attendees asking for more. Hospitalists were saying, ‘Now what? I feel like I still need to develop these skills.’ ”

One of the key sessions in the new course focuses on advanced communications—a critical skill for hospitalists with long-term career aspirations. In the session, scientist-turned-filmmaker and author Randy Olson will offer his unique perspective on how clinicians and scientists can improve their communications with team members, hospital administrators, patients, and the public. After laying the groundwork for better communications, Olson will lead the hospitalists through a highly interactive set of exercises that culminate in participants presenting back to the group.

Published in 2009, Olson’s book Don’t Be Such a Scientist invites scientists to become better communicators and storytellers as a means to getting their points across and influencing audiences.

A full day of the course is devoted to leading and managing teams, including how to build a successful hospitalist program by selecting and investing in the right people. Another portion of the day teaches hospitalists skills they can use to build trust within their teams.

Ready to Shape Hospital Medicine?

Apply Now for SHM Committees

All of SHM’s major efforts, from the annual meeting to Project BOOST to Leadership Academy, are shaped by hospitalists on volunteer committees.

Between now and early December, SHM will accept applications for more than 30 committees. With the exception of a handful of select committee positions, any active member is eligible to apply for a committee.

Members can learn more and apply by visiting the “Committees” page in the “About SHM” section of

SHM’s president-elect will select committee appointments in early 2011. Committee appointments last for one year, starting in May at HM11 in Dallas.

The final day focuses on an often-neglected element of leadership: self-investment. An executive coach will work with hospitalists to understand the importance of investing in their own careers, and help them develop tools to make self-investment easier.

The Originals

Years ago, as it became clear that hospitalists would be on the vanguard of changing healthcare in the hospital, it became equally clear that clinical and diagnostic skills alone would not be sufficient to tackle challenges that were as much about the people involved as they were about the technical requirements of healthcare.

The foundational SHM Leadership Academy course was developed to address the interpersonal dynamics of leadership in the hospital. Since its inception, the principles of hospitalist leadership apply equally to physicians and nonphysicians, including hospital administrators, physician assistants, and other hospital-based caregivers.

The allure for many hospitalists, including Dr. Agborbesong, is its particular relevance to the hospital setting.

“I had been to other leadership trainings, but this one was geared right to me. Everything was focused on the practice of HM and was oriented toward a leader at my level, when I was still new in my leadership position,” she says. “Other courses assumed that I was midway through my career or further.”

The real-world basis of the academy is apparent in the teaching model as well as its subject. Because many of the participants are already active and engaged leaders, the academy’s courses are structured to be interactive, hands-on learning experiences. Participants in the first Leadership Academy program walk away with, among other skill sets, the ability to:

RIV Submission Deadline

SHM’s Research, Innovations, and Clinical Vignettes (RIV) scientific abstract competition provides an excellent opportunity for hospitalists to share their work with a national audience. The deadline for RIV submissions is Dec. 6. Learn more at

  • Evaluate personal leadership strengths and weaknesses and apply them to everyday leadership and management challenges;
  • Predict and plan for the near-term challenges affecting the viability of their hospitalist programs;
  • Improve patient outcomes through successful planning, allocation of resources, collaboration, teamwork, and execution;
  • Understand key hospital drivers and examine how hospital performance metrics are derived, as well as how HM practices can influence and impact these metrics; and
  • Implement methods of effective change through leadership, shared vision, and managing the organizational culture.

Participants in the second SHM Leadership Academy course build on those skills and learn to:

  • Drive culture change through specific leadership behaviors and actions;
  • Use financial reports to drive decision-making in clinical and operational practices;
  • Recruit and retain the best physicians for their group;
  • Build exceptional physician satisfaction; and
  • Engage in effective, professional negotiation activities using proven techniques. TH

Brendon Shank is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia.

Fellow in Hospital Medicine Spotlight

Joseph Charles, MD, FACP, FHM

Dr. Charles, a 12-year SHM member, is an assistant professor of medicine and division education coordinator of the department of internal hospital medicine at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix.

Since 1998, he has served as a teaching attending for the clinic’s flourishing hospitalist program. He was selected as Educator of the Year in 2000, 2005, and 2006. In 2009, he was honored as Top Doctor in the Phoenix area.

Medical school: Aberdeen University, Aberdeen, Scotland

Internship and residency: The Royal Infirmary in Aberdeen

Chief residency: Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix

Fellowship and general practice: In pediatrics, obstetrics, and gynecology at Dartford in Kent, England

Notable: He is writing a chapter on acid-based disorders for Medical Knowledge Self-Assessment Program for Students and recently presented “What Every Internist Should Know about Hospitalists” at a CME conference in Sedona, Ariz.

His most recent publications include “60-Year-Old Man with Rash” in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings in 2009, “Inpatient to Outpatient Transfer to Diabetes Care: Planning an Effective Hospital Discharge” in Endocrine Practice in 2009, and “More Patients Pick Acupuncture” in The Hospitalist in 2007.

FYI: What Dr. Charles enjoys most about hospital medicine is that “no two days are the same; there is always action.” Physical and creative activities out of the hospital keep him refreshed for his weeks on service. Once an avid runner, he has completed one marathon and three half-marathons. More recently, he enjoys photography and playing guitar.

—Sarah Gelotte

HM11 Right Around the Corner

Hospital Medicine 2011, or HM11, the premier event for healthcare professionals who specialize in hospital medicine, is just months away, and includes the specialty’s best opportunities for education, networking, and career advancement.

HM11 will present the future of HM in an authentic Lone Star State setting—the Gaylord Texan Hotel and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas, May 10-13. The official kickoff to HM11 will be Wednesday morning; educational pre-courses will be offered Tuesday.

In addition to dozens of sessions from the best in the specialty on issues like clinical practice, practice management, new academic research, and quality initiatives, SHM again will present pre-courses specifically designed for in-depth education.

New pre-courses in 2011 include:

  • Advanced Interactive Critical Care;
  • Portable Ultrasound for the Hospitalist;
  • Perioperative Medicine for the Hospitalist; and
  • Succeeding in Challenging Times: Advances in Hospital Practice Management.

The continued growth of SHM’s annual conference also means new opportunities for exhibitors and sponsors to reach thousands of the most influential individuals in modern healthcare. Materials for both exhibitors and sponsors are available at the HM11 website.

Discounted early registration is available through April 3. For details and updates, visit

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