A record number of hospitalists attended the combined biannual conference of the Chilean Society of Hospitalists and the Pan American Society of Hospitalists (PASHA) July 19-20 in Santiago, Chile. The meeting sold out with more than 250 attendees, and the energy of the South American hospitalist movement could be felt inside as hospitalists from across the Americas packed into the conference center.
It was the third such combined meeting, and hospitalists from Argentina, Colombia, the United States, and all parts of Chile were present. The first national meeting of hospitalists in Chile was held in 2008, and meetings have occurred every other year since 2008. PASHA was established in 2010 to unite hospitalists in South America and build collaborations with hospitalists in North America. PASHA’s past meetings were held in Brazil and Argentina, and organizers plan to continue it annually.
Hospitalists and subspecialists gathered to update their clinical knowledge and share ideas on patient safety, quality improvement (QI), and transitions of care.
“All of our countries have different challenges, but hospitalists everywhere are trying to do the same thing—provide quality healthcare as efficiently as possible. This central goal of hospitalists allows us to share ideas and learn from each other,” said Andres Aizman, MD, director of the division of hospital medicine at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago.
Lectures were translated into multiple languages, including English, to engage not only local physicians, but also those from abroad.
“This has been an incredible experience,” said Dr. Eddie Greene, a nephrologist from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who presented a lecture on hypertensive crises. “Getting so many talented people from different backgrounds in the same place exchanging ideas on diverse topics has been an amazing experience. This is something special, and I hope to see it continue to grow.”
Two internists at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile founded its first HM division in 2004. The division has grown to include nine physicians, and there is a second, five-physician group of hospitalists at Universidad de Chile, a neighboring teaching hospital. The actual number of practicing hospitalists in Chile is hard to estimate because there are many hospital-based internists that have yet to be recognized as hospitalists; however, the most active academic hospitalists in the Chilean Society of Hospitalists are at the two universities.
One of the highlights of this year’s conference was a workshop on bedside applications of portable ultrasound for hospitalists. Lectures on procedural and diagnostic applications of portable ultrasound were presented to the general assembly, and a hands-on workshop with limited seating was sold out.
The workshop included brief lectures, simulation-based training, and scanning of live models.
“This meeting has enlightened me on so many topics and tools that I can easily use in my hospital,” said Ofelia Leiva, MD, a hospitalist from Curico, a city of 250,000 in southern Chile. “There are so many ways we can use ultrasound in the hospital. I’m grateful that I was able to attend.”
Nilam Soni, MD, of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, spearheaded the ultrasound workshop in collaboration with Dr. Ricardo Franco from John H. Stroger Hospital in Chicago and Dr. Carolina Candotti from Penn State Hershey Medical Center.
Faculty from the Mayo Clinic, including Drs. Jamie Newman, Fernando Rivera, John Park, and Eddie Greene, attended the meeting for a second consecutive time. Their contributions made the event even more attractive to local hospitalists.
—Ofelia Leiva, hospitalist, Curico, Chile
Although HM continues to grow in South America, barriers still exist. Each country has a different healthcare system, and the economic and political forces that drive these systems affect hospitalists and their patients. Certain metrics that are often used to gauge hospitalists’ impact in North America, such as length of stay, are less meaningful in Chile and other countries. Additionally, hospitalists’ ability to participate in conferences and exchange ideas is limited by distance and circumstance; the average hospitalist in Chile earns the equivalent of about $70,000 a year. Lastly, many hospitalists in South America aspire to develop research programs, but obtaining research training is challenging. Such opportunities are limited in South America, and physicians often encounter cost and immigration issues when they seek training abroad.
Despite the challenges, the enthusiasm to advance HM in South America and build international collaborations continues to grow. Hospitalists from different institutions in the U.S. have returned every year to participate in the conference. The opportunity to meet hospitalists from different countries, exchange ideas, and be part of the hospitalist movement abroad draws people back. The energy of the hospitalist movement is still alive.
Dr. Abbott and Dr. Rodriguez are adjunct professors and Dr. Aizman is an assistant professor in the department of internal medicine at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile School of Medicine in Santiago; Dr. Newman is an assistant professor in the division of hospital medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.; and Dr. Soni is an assistant professor of medicine in the division of hospital medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.