Editor’s note: This article first appeared on “The Hospital Leader” blog. Read the full post at.
In December, I wrote a letter to hospital executives, urging them to deliberately invest their own personal time and effort in fostering hospitalist well-being. I suggested several actions that leaders can take to enhance hospitalist job satisfaction and reduce the risk of burnout and turnover.
Following publication of that post, I heard from several hospital executives and was pleasantly surprised that they all responded positively to my message. Several execs told me that they gained valuable new insights about their hospitalists’ challenges and needs; others said they planned to take action on one or more of my suggestions that had never occurred to them before.
Especially useful to them was the idea of a hospitalist “hierarchy of needs,” in which such basics as well-designed work (including adequate staffing), belonging, and esteem must be addressed before expecting hospitalists to undertake “self-actualizing” work, such as engagement in organizational performance improvement initiatives.
Their feedback reinforced my belief that most hospital leaders actually do care a lot about promoting healthy, stable, and sustainable hospitalist programs, but the hospital leaders I talked with also had some messages for their hospitalist colleagues, and I think it’s important to share them in the spirit of fostering a healthy exchange of perspectives. Your hospital’s leaders would be delighted and encouraged if you engaged them in dialogue about these issues.
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Several hospital leaders told me that their hospitalists grumble about being treated by the medical staff (and even nurses) like second-class citizens or glorified residents. Those same hospitalists, however, routinely show up for work dressed in scrubs and tennis shoes rather than professional attire. They rarely come in early when it’s busy or invest more time than is absolutely needed to see the patients on their list, making it easy for others to dismiss them as shift workers.
Hospitalists, they say, are unwilling to come in on their own time to attend a medical staff meeting, something other doctors do as a matter of course. And instead of interacting as social peers with other physicians when opportunity arises (i.e., in the cafeteria or doctors’ lounge), the hospitalists just grab food and head back to eat together in their work room.
The executives said they want to help enhance the stature of their hospitalists within the medical staff, but theHere’s a typical comment:
“[Hospitalists] also need to be willing to participate in hospital and system committees. Although this may require them to interrupt their workflow and stay late on some days they are working or come in on days off, they will never garner the respect of their colleagues if they are unwilling to do so.”
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Leslie Flores is a hospital medicine consultant and member of SHM’s Practice Analysis Committee.
Also on The Hospital Leader. . .
• Creating Value through Crowdsourcing & Finding ‘Value’ in the New Year, by Vineet Arora, MD, MPP, FHM
• BREAKING NEWS: “Physicians Deemed Unnecessary”; Social Worker Promoted to Hospital CEO, by Jordan Messler, MD, SFHM
• ER Docs and Out-of-Network Billing: Are We in the Same Boat?, by Brad Flansbaum, DO, MPH, MHM
• The Best Way to Die?, by David Brabeck, MD