Innovations in Healthcare

OB/GYN Hospitalists Emerge as a Specialty


The OB/GYN hospitalist field is growing, with at least 164 identified programs and 1,500 to 2,500 practitioners who spend all or part of their workweek in hospital labor and delivery departments. SHM and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists helped birth the 90-member Society of OB/GYN Hospitalists in 2011, but it is now independent, says founding president Rob Olson, MD, an OB/GYN hospitalist practicing in Bellingham, Wash. The fledgling society is planning its second annual conference, Sept. 27-29 in Denver, with obstetric emergency simulation training, clinical lectures, and pearls from the experience of general hospitalist practice by HM pioneer John Nelson, MD, MHM.

Also known as laborists, these board-certified OB/GYN docs’ dedicated presence affords rapid on-site response to changes in patients’ conditions, Dr. Olson says. Laborists might cover nights and weekends, pick up unassigned patients, or cover for private obstetricians who are fully engaged. Laborists do not supplant the private practitioner’s role in delivering babies in the hospital, Dr. Olson says, “unless the private physician asks them to,” which, he adds, is happening more often.

Laborists typically are limited to labor and delivery services, although some also address gynecological cases in the ED. Most of the programs provide coverage 24/7, and invariably they are in facilities with medical hospitalists who might consult on medical complications for expectant mothers. One to two new programs open every month, Dr. Olson says, and his website lists 120 job openings. For information, visit

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