GRAPEVINE, Texas—Femi Adewunmi, MD, MBA, SFHM, might land a new job as a multisite medical director because of it. Amaka Nweke, MD, might have gained an idea for a new committee for her hospital from it. And Randa Perkins, MD, is going to lead one long brown-bag lunch thanks to it.
Everyone gets something different out of SHM’s annual meeting, a four-day bazaar of CME, plenary sessions, and breakout sessions akin to one-hour crash courses that follow clinical, academic, practice management, pediatric, and quality tracks.
The Hospitalist sat down with three attendees to break down what each took home from HM11.
New Year, New Job?
A veteran of multiple annual meetings, Dr. Adewunmi usually splits his time between breakout sessions and networking. But this year, the former medical director of the hospitalist service at Johnston Medical Center in Smithfield, N.C., says he’s looking to step up from a single-site leadership position to a regional head. So the mission was more about networking than note-taking.
“It’s been invaluable for me at this point,” Dr. Adewunmi says, “as I navigate and decide what the next steps should be in terms of my career progression.”
Of course, that progression meant using his time-management skills to hold discussions with potential employers.
“I was in and out,” he says, noting he’s been doing locum tenens work for several months as he weighs his next move. “Sometimes, if you want to have the time to meet one-on-one [at the exhibitor hall]without the crowd and the distractions, it’s probably easier and better to go in between sessions.”
Dr. Adewunmi, a newly seated member of Team Hospitalist, says he met with eight to 10 of the largest HM firms during the meeting. He leveraged contacts he’s built over the years, and also used relationships with SHM staff to make introductions. He thinks employers appreciate the annual meeting for the same reason.
“It’s one spot where rather than trying to fly in 10 or 20 candidates every month or every few weeks, you can just come in one spot and interview several people … or put your feelers out,” he says. “It works both ways.”
Dr. Adewunmi can’t be sure his networking will be successful. He plans to keep working locums with one potential employer so both sides can get to know each other. But even if nothing pans out, between the clinical sessions he attended and the relationships he either built or strengthened, he says he’s glad he came again to the annual meeting.
“This, for me, has always been the best resource in terms of place you could come to one stop and get a little bit of everything,” he adds. “It’s like a buffet.”
Meet and Greet, Over and Over
Dr. Nweke, assistant site director for Hospitalists Management Group at Kenosha Medical Center in Wisconsin, wasn’t going to let her first meeting overwhelm her. She laid out her agenda early, planning to attend as many practice management and leadership classes as she could. When she arrived, she sat through talks including “Understanding Your Hospital’s Key Financial Drivers,” “Hiding in Plain Sight,” and “Introduction to QI Methodology.”
But it was a session on basic tips to improve patient-satisfaction scores that gave her the most feedback.
“There are a lot of things you kind of instinctively know just as a human being as opposed to being a physician,” Dr. Nweke says. “It’s only polite that you shake the hand of the person you’re meeting and you smile at them, as opposed to being a grouch. But it’s interesting to hear what questions are asked in the patient surveys. While I was there, I actually sat thinking from a patient’s perspective: ‘What would I be looking for in my hospital?’ ”
Dr. Nweke admittedly felt a bit frustrated with some sessions, as she’d hoped to extract more advanced tips. However, she had no complaints about the networking opportunities. Everywhere she turned, she says, she had the chance to discuss ideas with new faces.
“I’ve randomly met people, introduced myself to people, and talked about different challenges,” she says. “For someone like me, it’s really very important because I’m at the bottom of the totem pole, so to speak, as far as leadership.”
One bit of practical advice Dr. Nweke learned from meeting someone was the idea of a medical records committee. One of her new contacts chairs such a committee, which prompted Dr. Nweke to check in with her hospital while the annual meeting was happening. Turns out, her hospital doesn’t have a similar committee. Yet.
“Maybe this might be something I could throw out there and say, ‘How about we do this or that?’ ” Dr. Nweke adds, “whatever it might be, little things that I could do to improve and add some value and worth to my program, and our relationship with the hospital.”
A Kid in a Candy Store
If Dr. Perkins ever becomes president of the society, HM11 will be why. A self-proclaimed lame-duck chief resident at Tallahassee Memorial’s Family Medicine Residency Program in Florida, she’d already signed her first contract as a hospitalist and starts the job in August. Yet she didn’t know about SHM or the annual meeting until shortly before it started, when a community physician mentioned it to her.
So she booked a room at a nearby hotel (the 1,551-room Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center having filled up early) and spent the last of her CME money on HM11. She had trouble picking out any specific tips she wanted to take home to her new practice, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Hospitalists Group, as she had so many.
She sat in a recruitment session just to have things to tell her new boss. She took feverish notes during a presentation on best practices in the ICU because she’ll be spending a lot of time there. And during a meet-and-greet pairing residents with potential mentors, she befriended Daniel Dressler, MD, MSc, SFHM, an SHM board member, HM11’s course director, and academic hospitalist heavyweight at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
“It’s kind of like when you start any adventure, you don’t have everything laid out in a guidebook,” Dr. Perkins says. “You just kind of have to put your feet out there and start moving and hope to God that things fall into your lap sometimes. This conference kind of did. This is kind of my guidebook, this is my compass, this is what I can look to when I’m trying to figure out how to make my own path in the specialty.”
Dr. Perkins adds that the fraternal feel of HM11 makes her feel like she chose the right specialty. Given all of the research talk, she might even start pushing her 12-member hospitalist group to begin more projects that could “help our community.”
“All the educational opportunities that were at the conference pulled me into it and then, all of a sudden, all these resources are laid out in front of me,” she adds. “I’m literally a kid in a candy store with access to data and information and guides. It’s great.” TH