SHM’s annual meeting—or annui conventus, for you Latin lovers—is right around the corner, so be sure to cement your intentions and prepare to go if you have not already.
Now a “longstanding” tradition, the annual meeting serves many purposes, one of which is to act as a reservoir of time for individual hospitalists and for hospitalist groups to reflect on where they have been, where they are now, and where they are (or would like to be) going. A brief history of the SHM annual meeting makes us quickly realize how far we have come, and how far we have to go.
Where We’ve Been
The annual meeting’s history dates back to 1998, when a rogue gathering of about 100 self-proclaimed hospitalists gathered at the National Association of Inpatient Physicians (NAIP) meeting in San Diego. From the year before the first annual meeting to the year after the first annual meeting, membership in NAIP had grown from about 20 hospitalists to about 800 hospitalists. That rapidity of growth had never been seen by another specialty in the history of modern medicine. By the 2003 annual meeting in San Diego, the name had officially changed to the Society of Hospital Medicine, and membership had grown to more than 3,000; less than 10 years later, when the meeting returned to San Diego, membership had grown to more than 10,000. These continued steady increases in both membership size and attendance at the meeting serves as a testimony to the strength of the field and the leadership of the society.
Where We Are Now
Growth: SHM’s annual meeting now has a track record to be reckoned with. The number of attendees expected for 2013 is a staggering 3,000, which is only a portion of the more than 11,000 SHM members who can actually take time away from their busy practices to attend. The event has now expanded to more than three and a half days, including eight pre-courses and more than 100 workshops/breakout sessions to meet the needs of most any hospitalist. The number of submissions for the Research, Innovations, and Clinical Vignettes competition has steadily risen over the years, topping an all-time record of 800 submissions in 2013. This is a testimony to the curiosity and productivity of so many hospitalists and HM groups.
Advocacy: SHM has been a longstanding and considerable advocate for healthcare reform for more than a decade. With the annual meeting in Washington, D.C., this year, and in lieu of the pre-courses, more than 100 hospitalists and SHM staff will be making a field trip to Capitol Hill to advocate for changes in the structure and payment within the medical industry, to promote good patient care for those we serve, and to promote continued research for better ways of delivering care in the future. Over the course of 2012, SHM submitted more than 20 influential advocacy letters to a variety of stakeholders on topics ranging from sustainable growth rate (SGR) repeal to Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) funding.
Impact: The annual meeting is not just bigger and longer; it is better. The quality and reputation of the plenary, breakout, and workshop speakers is tremendous, with this year’s plenary speakers including Patrick Conway, chief medical officer of CMS, and David Feinberg, president of UCLA Health System and CEO of UCLA Hospital System. The annual award ceremony will recognize a highly qualified repertoire of dedicated hospitalists and teams and reflect the number and quality of those involved in HM in the areas of clinical excellence, teaching, research, service, and teamwork. The annual Fellows in Hospital Medicine induction will include more than 300 additional fellows and senior fellows, which is a testimony to the level of involvement so many hospitalists have within our specialty.
Where We Are Going
Growth: I suspect the annual meeting will continue to grow in size, and it will expand to better serve the needs of other types of hospital-based physicians (neurologists, obstetricians, etc.), other types of practitioners (NPs, PAs, other specialty nurses), and other types of professionals (administrators and executives). It likely will attract an international community of hospitalists as other nations identify and execute better models of care for hospitalized patients.
Advocacy: SHM and the annual meeting will continue to serve as a nidus for directing the best pathways toward a better healthcare system. It will continue to serve as an avenue by which we partner with and/or influence impactful organizations, such as federal, state, and local governments, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Joint Commission, and the American Hospital Association, to name a few.
Impact: SHM and the annual meeting will expand its role as the focus for learning and sharing new research and innovations within the field. It will serve as a platform for initiating and spreading standardized evidence-based implementation of best practices through a repertoire of mentored implementation programs. And it will continue to serve as proof of the strength of our hospital medicine community as we spread into every U.S. hospital system and beyond.
Reputation: The future of our annual meeting and reputation will be dependent on how fast and how carefully we craft the pathway for HM. Currently, about half of all the nation’s hospitalists have been in practice for five years or less. We will need to carefully focus on how to be compassionate providers and system advocates—not just shift workers and billing specialists. We will have to be the mentors by which other countries define best practice for inpatient care, including what ideal training for a hospitalist should look like, and what their scope of practice should entail.
If you ask one of the attendees of the first annui conventus what it was like, they will say it was a small mom-and-pop gathering of disparate physicians, with a pie-in-the-sky idea of the future of hospitalist practice. And someday, when our current generation of hospitalists attends an international conference of hospitalists, in Prague, in 2033, we can say, “Remember when we met in that tiny hotel in D.C. in 2013?”
Dr. Scheurer is a hospitalist and chief quality officer at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. She is physician editor of The Hospitalist. Email her at email@example.com.