Grassroots Hospitalists Anxious for Bob Wachter’s Keynote


LAS VEGAS—Hospitalist Jennifer Johnson, MD, knows exactly where she’ll be at noon today: sitting in a banquet chair listening to “the father of hospital medicine,” Bob Wachter, MD, MHM, give his annual meeting address.

When you work in technology, “you don’t get to listen to Bill Gates talk,” says Dr. Johnson, who practices at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, Wis. “It’s one of the few times you get to be in the same room with and hear how the real people at the forefront are thinking. I think that’s very helpful.”

Dr. Johnson, who last heard Dr. Wachter speak at HM12 in San Diego, says she relishes his vision, which goes beyond what most hospitalists’ day-to-day duties encompass.

“No matter what your vocation is, it’s always good to be reminded what more you could do,” she says. “How better you could improve yourself. Instead of stagnating…there’s always a next level, a next step. He’s the guy who thinks that way.”

She’s not alone in that view. Dr. Wachter’s presentation has become a rite of SHM’s annual meeting and an unofficial wrap-up of the four-day convention. This year’s edition is titled “Ten Years of Wachter Keynote: And Now For Something Completely Different.”

Sunil Kartham, MD, a hospitalist at Altru Health System in Grand Forks, N.D., spoke with Dr. Wachter earlier this week, as he wasn’t sure he could stay long enough for the formal address. But whether it’s Dr. Wachter or any of the keynote speakers, Dr. Kartham enjoys hearing HM’s leaders give advice.

“When you’re individual physicians,” he says, “you don’t know what to expect in the future. When the leaders come and speak, they lay out a map for you…so you can prepare yourself.”

For his part, Dr. Wachter has been priming the crowd for his talk. Earlier this week, he tweeted about his talk: “last 6 min wil b highlight (or lowlite) of conf, posibly of my life.”

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