Making hospital medicine a lifelong, enjoyable, and engaging career


Which SHM conferences have you attended? Tell TH about your most memorable highlights or takeaways.

When I started out as a hospitalist in 2014, I decided to attend the annual conference in Las Vegas, and I can honestly say that conference changed the course of my career. I can still remember listening to the opening speech and realizing that I was surrounded by more than 3,000 hospitalists who understood the power we had to influence inpatient care. I’ve attended all the national conferences since then and am grateful that I now get to help organize the Hospital Medicine 2018 annual conference, also known as HM18.

I had been working to find a way to improve documentation within my group, as well as change the culture and perception towards billing and coding practices, which prompted me to attend the Quality and Safety Educators Academy. During one of the problem-solving sessions, I explained the challenges that I faced to my conference group. The exercise required me to explain the problem at hand, and the players of my group then discussed their thoughts while I took notes. It was a fantastic experience, as the participants at my table offered strong solutions to my problems within a matter of minutes. Their advice led to meaningful changes in our group’s hospital documentation practices, and in turn, I’ve been promoted to physician advisor in Southeast Alabama Medical Center.

After such a great experience at Quality and Safety Educators Academy, I went on to attend SHM’s Leadership Academy, where I had the opportunity to meet some of the top leaders and pioneers in the field of hospital medicine. It’s empowering to be mentored by the very people you look up to and aspire to be like. Not only was I able to bring ideas home to my institution, but I was able to reflect and improve my own professional and personal growth. I’m happy to say that I’ve completed all three levels of Leadership Academy.

As I’ve become involved with the medical student and residency programs at my medical center, I recently attended the Academic Hospitalist Academy to help my transition into academic hospital medicine. Meeting and spending time with the faculty at Academic Hospitalist Academy made me further realize the roles that academic hospitalists play in the education of future physicians, emphasizing the idea that we can all be champions in quality and patient safety.

If you’re looking to advance your career as a hospitalist, take advantage of the conferences that SHM offers. I’ve gained so much from each experience, and I’m looking forward to returning to these conferences as a potential facilitator, in hopes of offering what I’ve learned to hospitalists looking to bring about change in their fields and careers.

What can attendees at HM18 expect to see in the area of career development, and how is this different than previous years?

Hospital medicine is only about 2 decades old, making it one of the youngest branches in medicine today. Given this fact, the Annual Conference Committee feels that it is paramount to focus on career development for both new and midcareer hospitalists alike.

One question that we wish to explore and answer this year is: “How do you make hospital medicine a life-long, enjoyable, and engaging career?” In turn, our committee has created several new additions to HM18. This includes a “Seasoning Your Career” track, which will provide ideas on how to advance in leadership, use emotional intelligence to achieve success, change your roles midcareer, and change hospitalist schedules. Another unique addition this year are career development workshops, which will aim to developing various aspects of a hospitalist’s career, such as working on leadership skills, refining presentation and communication skills, providing constructive feedback, promoting women in hospital medicine, preventing burnout, and turning ideas into clinical research. We also plan to incorporate an education track, which will focus on how hospitalists can expand their careers towards educational leadership.

Given your involvement in SHM at both the local and national levels, do you have any advice for young hospital medicine professionals looking to build their professional profiles?

I’ve frequently noticed that young hospitalists don’t realize the potential influence they hold within their own institutions or the power they have to elicit change in health care at the national level.

Though we don’t often admit it, some hospitalists feel like they are glorified residents, which definitely is not the case. As a provider on the front lines, you have the unique opportunity to implement changes pertaining to issues of cost, utilization of resources, process management, quality and patient safety, and bottlenecks in care, to name a few. These are issues that keep the administrators of your organization and leaders of hospital medicine up at night. Don’t sit around and complain about how things could be or should be; look toward creating change. Bring up possible solutions to these problems with your leaders. They will appreciate the effort, and hopefully together you can find ways to tackle these problems.

I will conclude by saying this: Hospital medicine is such a unique specialty in that it’s constantly evolving, and the pioneers of this field are still alive and practicing medicine. You can meet and interact with them during the SHM conferences and look to them as sources of inspiration or guidance. Meeting people you look up to and having them as your mentors can take you places.

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