Ron Greeno, MD, SFHM, chief medical officer for Brentwood, Tenn.-based Cogent Healthcare, will arrive at HM11 and embark on a whirlwind of meet-and-greets, dinners, drinks, and introductions. At the same time, first-year attendee Amaka Nweke, assistant site director for Hospitalists Management Group at Kenosha Medical Center in Wisconsin, will focus on sessions that will help her learn the management skills she can use to further her career.
To be sure, Dr. Greeno will attend a few classes to brush up on specific topics. And Dr. Nweke will ask for business cards as she builds a professional network. But each has to pick a strategy to navigate the four-day annual meeting in Grapevine, Texas.
“You can’t do everything,” says Daniel Dressler, MD, MSc, SFHM, associate professor and director of internal-medicine teaching services at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, SHM board member, and HM11’s course director. “You have to plan and ask, ‘What do I want to get out of this meeting this year?’ ”
The Hospitalist talked to more than a half-dozen providers in various HM roles to determine just what they expect out of their annual meeting. The physicians fall into broad categories that capture most of the roughly 2,500 attendees at the annual meeting: first-timer, veteran, academic, rural hospitalist, up-and-comer, socialite. And while each says plenary sessions and keynote addresses are must-sees, the tack they take for the rest of the week is custom-made.
Dr. Nweke, who finished her residency in 2009, wasn’t sure how to map out her meeting schedule until she decided to attend two medical conferences this year. She plans to get her clinical refreshers at the annual meeting of the American College of Physicians (ACP), and use SHM’s affair to teach her the managerial and administrative skills she needs to eventually become an HM group leader. Her particular focuses include process improvement and length-of-stay (LOS) reduction methods.
“Originally, when I wasn’t sure what I wanted to get out of SHM, it was very daunting,” she says. “For meetings like this, you have to figure out what you want out of the course. Once you figure that out, it makes it easy to register for a course. If you don’t know and you’re just going, it’s definitely extremely daunting.”
Jeffrey Dichter, MD, FACP, SFHM, medical director for the cardiovascular ICU at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minn., only missed two of the first 14 annual meetings. He picks a topic area each year that he wants to focus on, then tailors his schedule to that idea. This year, it’s quality improvement. An academician at heart, he also attends the abstract poster sessions to get “a real flavor for the researchers and what people are thinking about for HM.”
“You’re not going to get to everything every year,” he says knowingly. “You just try to mix and match. Early on, you could see everything. Since it’s grown, you realize you can’t see everything. You learn to adapt.”
Danielle Scheurer, MD, MSc, SFHM, medical director of quality and safety at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, uses the meeting as a sounding board to solve problems. Community HM groups don’t have the sort of turnover issues that academic medical centers do, so meeting with like-minded colleagues provides the chance to find the “little pearls from any medical center that you can take back.”
“Since I do a lot of quality improvement, I just like the opportunity to see how other people are doing things that we are struggling with,” says Dr. Scheurer, SHM’s physician advisor. “It amazes me the ubiquity of how we all struggle around the same types of things.”
The Rural Hospitalist
Martin Johns, MD, a hospitalist at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph, Vt., (pop. 4,853) could use an entire focused track on rural medicine. In particular, rural hospitalists often perform multiple roles—administrative or clinical—and best-practice recommendations would be valuable. Networking has its place at the meeting, but given that many rural physicians have long tenures, the real goal is bring useful information back to the group. “What is good about the SHM [meeting] is you are exposed to know what’s happening regionally,” Dr. Johns says. “You get a flavor for the national tenor. That’s important, because in a small place, you only have a certain allotment for CME funds.”
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Christina Payne, MD, an academic hospitalist at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta who finished her residency in June, sees herself as a potential future leader in the field. She presented a poster at last year’s meeting and works on a SHM committee for early-career hospitalists.
A quality-minded academician, Dr. Payne plans to take advantage of meeting the leading minds in HM and use them as mentors to help her help the field.
“It’s learning to walk the walk and talk the talk,” she says. “I’m still new at that, but I’m ready to put myself out there. … My excitement for hospital medicine puts me in an ideal spot. In 20 years, hopefully, we’ll be the ones for other people to come to for mentorship.”
Dr. Dressler refers to Dr. Greeno, a cofounder of Cogent, as the “ultimate socialite.” Dr. Greeno is often a panelist at the annual meeting and spends much of his time catching up with colleagues around the country he does not often see in person. He makes sure to catch three or four handpicked sessions but typically looks most forward to being approached by younger physicians as he sees the young field of HM take hold with a new generation.
“The entire time I’m there, I’m talking to someone, whether it’s planned or I run into someone,” he says. “It’s the one time I usually end up having dinner and end up having drinks with folks and talking with people well into the night. It really does give you a chance to recharge your battery and get excited about what we’re doing again.” HM11
Richard Quinn is a freelance writer based in New Jersey.