A: I think we have a lot of challenges, though, because a lot of things require creative solutions. And I think the first on that list is education, because that’s the first thing that I think has the potential to drop to the bottom of the list.
Q: In terms of HM’s growth, as you see residents coming through your program, how popular do you think the model is going to be with them moving forward?
A: I do, actually, because as an academic hospitalist, I’ve had several medical students and residents tell me, “Watching you, I think that I want to go into this field.” Or they’ll say, “What do you think about doing this for a year or two?” Or, “What do you think about subspecializing, and then being a hospitalist?” And my answer to all of them is it’s a dynamic specialty, and if you’re up for creating change and being a leader, it’s a good field, because we need people in a lot of different buckets, so to speak. We need people who have done other things in their career to contribute to our field.
Q: How do you prepare trainees for all the challenges coming down the pike?
A: A lot of the people who are doing work in medical education are starting to look to other fields to see if there are other models that we can adapt, or that we can somehow absorb into our practice. I think that there are some parts of our education which are not really formalized early on, but I think we have a lot to learn from organizational behavior circles, and systems that actually look at teams and leadership.
Q: What do the next five to 10 years hold for you?
A: All physician leaders have to stay somewhat in the clinical world. I think if you lose sight of that, you can’t be a very effective leader, or a very effective agent for change. Because part of my work is with palliative care, and I really feel that it’s affected my work as a hospitalist in a positive way, I don’t think I ever see myself leaving the clinical world completely. But I do see myself becoming, ideally, more involved with leadership and more involved with helping to train the next set of leaders.
Q: What do you see as SHM’s role specific to academic HM?
A: HM is changing the way healthcare is delivered in the U.S., and I think having an organization to represent us is vital to our success in other arenas of change—including healthcare policy and innovative care models. I see SHM as a large umbrella group, of which academic HM is one part. Academic hospitalists are increasingly involved in the education of future generations of physicians, and are uniquely poised for facilitating cascading leadership. The traditional, hierarchical model of attending-fellow-resident-medical student is shifting, and academic hospitalists are well-suited to study and explore this leadership structure and how it affects patient care, feedback, and mentoring.
Richard Quinn is a freelance writer based in New Jersey.