I just got back from a trip to SHM headquarters in Philadelphia, and all I can say is “wow.” I was visiting there for a meeting with the staff, many SHM members and committee leaders, and the SHM board of directors. The first day we all went into a big, modern, beautiful room at SHM headquarters—there must have been more than 100 people—and we went around the room and introduced ourselves. The diversity of the staff that support our society, and the diversity of the members there, was truly breathtaking. What I saw was a microcosm of our society and our specialty.
Looking around the room, it was easy to see some aspects of our diverse organization: both genders and a variety of ethnicities and age groups were well represented. These traditional measures of diversity are critical to a healthy environment, in my opinion, and the data bear out the idea that a diverse workforce can reduce turnover and be more creative and qualified.1,2 Our diversity is not an accident. It is part of a larger, deliberate strategy by SHM to be “the home” for healthcare professionals who provide hospital-based patient care. SHM embraces diversity, whether it’s skin deep or deeply cognitive.
Although we are continually working to enrich the traditional aspects of diversity, we are also very hard at work to make SHM a place of professional diversity.
Open and Inclusive
Over the past several years, SHM has worked hard to be openly inclusive. Many of the committees and sections within the society have been developed specifically to embrace important aspects of hospital medicine that have special or common interests, characteristics, or needs. Examples include the international section, med-peds section, administrators’ committee, and the nurse practitioner and physician assistant committee. These venues allow individuals under a Big Tent to find others with similar interests or training, so that they can address unique aspects of hospital medicine as it relates directly to them. SHM’s virtual world is following our committee and section structure, which has some of the most actively growing HMXchange communities coming from the “administrators” community and the “NP/PA” community.
SHM has put its money where its mouth is, dedicating significant resources for educational programs that will help benefit professionals with a variety of backgrounds. Some are focused on the special needs of our diverse physician population, including the Academic Hospitalist Academy, the Quality and Safety Educators Academy, and the Pediatric Hospital Medicine annual meeting (through a partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the AAP Section on Hospital Medicine, and the Academic Pediatric Association). Other events are focused specifically on helping our non-physician colleagues, like the boot camp that is presented in collaboration with the American Academy of Physician Assistants and American Association of Nurse Practitioners. The SHM Leadership Academies attract a venerable alphabet soup of professional designations, including many MDs and DOs, of course, but also increasing numbers of PAs and NPs, a growing number of administrators, and now even a few ED and OB docs! Now that’s a Big Tent.
My understanding is that these events are always popular and often sold out.
Maybe the most powerful evidence that our Big Tent philosophy is working is found in the relationships SHM has forged with other hospital-based specialties, like obstetrics, neurology, and surgery. The president of the Society of OB/GYN Hospitalists (societyofobgynhospitalists.com) has attended the SHM annual meeting and at least one of the Leadership Academies. Although “traditional” hospitalists like me may not be able to help in the OR or birthing suite, we have a lot of experience in quality improvement, leadership, and, of course, addressing the needs of a new and growing professional segment. The emergence and growth of these “specialty hospitalists” offers a unique opportunity for traditional hospitalists to partner with our subspecialty colleagues in a new way, so that together we can continue to improve patient care within the hospital across multiple disciplines.