By the time you read this, SHM will have completed another amazing annual meeting, very likely smashing some records in the process. Pre-courses have been taught, Washington’s Capitol Hill “visited,” lectures communicated, Bob Wachter’s update … updated. Staff at SHM will be busy crunching numbers and analyzing data so they can quantify the success and uniqueness of HM13.
It was at HM13 that I was lucky enough to meet many of you who are hospitalists just like me. Between Bob Wachter and Larry Wellikson, I also was able to muscle in on stage for a few minutes and share a glimpse of what I am passionate about. If you were there, you know I challenged our society to double the number of student and house staff members to 1,000. I launched the effort by inducting a special medical student (at least to me!), my sister, Lesley Sutherland (see “I Am No. 1,000,” below), bringing the new total number needed down to 999. I plan to repeatedly induct students and housestaff over the next year, and I hope many of you will, too.
As a society, we have had phenomenal membership growth over the past 15 years, expanding from a few hundred members to more than 11,000. SHM’s growth is a tremendous success story; in all of health care’s history, no other medical specialty’s ranks have grown as quickly as HM has.
But virtually all of our growth has come from board-certified (BC) or board-eligible (BE) physicians; very little has come from house officers or students. Over the last four years alone, the society has gone from 9,850 to 11,731 total members, an impressive 16% increase. However, during that same period, housestaff members have remained at about 400. This year, student members barely number 100.
This surprises me.
The Connection: Students and House Officers
It surprises me because, as best I can tell, HM is a career path that meets many of the interests of the new generation of students and house officers. Based on my totally unscientific analysis (I asked my sister, her colleagues, and the house officers with whom I work), many are interested in shorter training, flexible schedules, work-life balance, excitement, and a decent salary. Some report wanting to focus on patient safety, teaching, leadership, and teamwork. If those aren’t what drew the “BC/BE” physicians to HM in droves, I don’t know what did.
That leads me to believe that SHM and, more broadly, HM have exactly what students are looking for.
But HM isn’t just good for medical students and house officers. More students and house officers are also good for the specialty. There continues to be a constant demand for hospitalists in hospitals across the country, and growing SHM’s ranks clearly has a positive benefit for all of our members.