Ethan Cumbler, MD, FACP, of the University of Colorado Denver, led a portion of the MOC pre-course at HM12. He says that those who attend SHM’s annual meeting are able to take advantage of communal learning, which provides benefits that those who study alone can’t absorb. Taking a pre-test just teaches whether participants answered correctly or not. Questioning why the answer is what it is, with interactive feedback, is “a learning process,” he says.
“There’s a very different feel to learning in a group setting with your peers than to sitting down with a journal or a magazine or a textbook or an online module,” Dr. Cumbler says. “Part of what makes this conference engaging is not just content, it’s the milieu. It’s a social milieu of our peers, and we’re learning together and we’re exploring these difficult issues together.
“My sense is that the people who come to this are probably a cut above,” adds Dr. Cumbler, whose University of Colorado In-Hospital Stroke QI Team was the 2012 recipient of SHM’s Award for Excellence in Teamwork in Quality Improvement. “They are people who are really committed to being more evidence-based and understanding what the evidence is and how they apply that to their patients.”
They are physicians like James Eppinette, MD, who became a hospitalist three years ago after 20 years in private practice as a primary-care physician (PCP). He joined a hospital-owned group at St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe, La., and HM12 was his first annual meeting—he attended because the meeting’s clinical focus provided him with professional development opportunities. He began with the pre-operative-care pre-course, an area in which he felt he wanted more exposure. From there, he bounced around clinical workshops.
“[HM12] has an incredible variety of tracks that you can pursue, so there’s something here for everybody,” Dr. Eppinette says, later adding that “my primary responsibility is clinical. That’s all I do is take care of people. I don’t manage people, I don’t run a practice, nor do I want to. That’s why I left 20 years of private practice to be a hospitalist. I just think it’s well set up structurally for an educational event.”
Dr. Eppinette, who took his notes back to the 12 hospitalists and nine pulmonologists in his hospitalist group, says that the decision to attend HM12 came from his increasing satisfaction with his late-career job change.
“I didn’t know how I would like going from an independent practitioner to being employed, hospital-owned. But I’ve done it three years,” he says, and “[I think this is] how I will finish my career. After three years, I’m kind of liking this road I’m on, so I’ve started looking into more about it.”
That level of personal accountability is a next step for hospitalists nationwide, according to new SHM president Shaun Frost, MD, SFHM, FACP, chief medical officer for the Northeast region of Brentwood, Tenn.-based Cogent HMG. Dr. Frost says that personal and professional accountability will be the drivers for HM’s continued growth and success, and that without individual physicians pushing their career development goals to new heights, the fastest-growing medical specialty in history could stall.
“We must all strive to consistently hold each other and hold ourselves personally accountable for embracing the work that is necessary to realize the potential of hospital medicine to be a true healthcare reform effector,” Dr. Frost says. “It’s time, I think, for each of us to put our money where our mouths have been.”