Ask Dan Brotman, MD, FACP, SFHM, how to get the most out of the annual meeting of hospitalists and you’ll get a simple, one-word answer: Go.
“It sounds so trivial,” says Dr. Brotman, HM13 course director. “But there are a lot more hospitalists out there than we see at the meeting, and I think that [we should be] getting out the word that this is the best single opportunity that hospitalists have to network and learn about their field, not only content knowledge but also understanding where the field is going from thought leaders.”
The annual pilgrimage of hospitalists is expected to be larger than ever this year, with SHM expecting nearly 3,000 hospitalists to attend. Last year, roughly 2,700 hospitalists attended in San Diego.
But navigating a four-day maze of pre-courses, plenaries, and presentations can overwhelm even the most experienced attendee, much less a first-timer. And that’s before the annual rite that is the Research, Innovation, and Clinical Vignettes (RIV) poster competition and the Hospitalists on the Hill event that is particularly fitting this year as Capitol Hill happens to be just a few miles away.
So what’s the best advice to have the best meeting experience? Planning, planning, and a little more planning.
Ken Simone, DO, SFHM, principal of Hospitalist and Practice Solutions in Veazie, Maine, says the plethora of workshops, keynote speakers, and formalized educational offerings means attendees should “game plan” their schedule as much as possible.
“It behooves everyone to really study the offerings each day and each hour and plan their schedule accordingly,” says Dr. Simone, a Team Hospitalist member. “I typically create my schedule before I leave home for the conference.”
But don’t plan too much, he adds. Having a list of sessions to attend is important, but part of the meeting’s allure is the ability to mingle with clinical, administrative, and society leaders from around the country.
“Flexibility is the key,” he says. “Having something well planned doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible.”
Dr. Brotman says meeting organizers take the same approach. While some topics are old favorites, SHM adds new offerings each year to adapt in real time to important trends. For example, he says, a new track this year focused on comanagement will appeal to hospitalists and subspecialists who take care of stroke patients, surgical patients, and pregnant women, among others.
The new track is in addition to the existing offerings: clinical, academic/research, rapid fire, pediatric, practice management, quality, and potpourri. The last item is in its second year and offers a break from the didactic and lecture approaches taken in nearly all of the annual meeting’s other breakout sessions. A particularly popular event is expected to be “History of Hospitals,” presented by hospitalist historian Jordan Messler, MD, SFHM.
There are two new pre-courses this year: “Bugs, Drugs and You: Infectious Disease Essentials for the Hospitalist” and “What Keeps You Awake at Night? Hot Topics in Hospitalist Practice Management.” Pre-course mainstays scheduled again this year include “ABIM Maintenance Certification,” “Medical Procedures for the Hospitalist,” and “Portable Ultrasounds for the Hospitalist.”
“As the society has gotten bigger, the meeting has gotten bigger in terms of its scope,” says Dr. Brotman, whose day job is director of the hospitalist program at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. “So we have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, plus the evening activities, plus the pre-courses. One of the adjustments that we’ve made over time is that we do recognize that with a larger constituency and a larger amount of topical information that we’d like to cover, the meeting does get longer. The hope is that people can commit close to a week toward advancing their knowledge; it’s well worth the time.”
Richard Quinn is a freelance writer in New Jersey.