Hospital Medicine: 10 years ago
My first Society of Hospital Medicine Annual Conference was HM08, and it changed the course of my professional career.
I was a first-year hospitalist from an academic program of fewer than 10 physicians. My knowledge about my field did not extend much beyond the clinical practice of hospital medicine. I remember sitting at the airport on my way to HM08 and excitedly looking over the schedule for the meeting. I diligently circled the sessions that I was looking forward to attending, the majority of which focused on the clinical tracks. But by the end of the meeting, in additional to valuable medical knowledge, I walked away with novel insights that launched me into my future.
There were three transformative aspects of the meeting: It exposed me to new ideas in my specialty, to emerging themes and trends in health care, and – most importantly – to new colleagues who, over the years, have transformed into friends, collaborators, and mentors. Here’s how each of those has played a role in my career:
New ideas in HM: In 2008, comanagement was still a new concept. As I attended sessions and spoke with hospitalists from across the country, it became clear that this was a collaboration that would be core to our specialty. Within a couple of months of returning home from the annual conference, I was approached by the chair of neurosurgery at my institution with a proposal to develop a quality program for his group. While at that time I was considering other competing interests, my experience at HM08 helped me recognize that this was a unique opportunity to build bridges across specialties and to collaborate. I subsequently became the executive director of quality for neurosurgery and over the years was able to create a strong relationship between our departments that led to building a nationally recognized program with exceptional performance in hospital-based quality.
Side note: If you’re interested in resources on comanagement, please check out SHM’s Resources for Effective Co-Management of Hospitalized Patients at.
Emerging themes and trends in health care: While the quality movement had launched about a decade before HM08, many institutions still did not have robust programs. As I attended sessions during the annual meeting and spoke with thought leaders, one message became clear: Hospitalists would have to lead the quality movement at their institutions. When I returned home, I began learning about quality improvement and started to lead various initiatives. These efforts led to my appointment as associate chief medical officer for the health system. This position enabled me to leverage my knowledge of hospital-based care and collaborate across various specialties to reduce our mortality and readmission rates in the organization.
Side note: If you’re interested in learning more about quality improvement educational and mentorship opportunities, please visitand look at the resources for each specific topic.
And, most importantly, friendships: By far the most important thing I took away from HM08 was the friendships that started at that meeting and have developed over the years since. A decade later, I continue to rely on, grow from, and be challenged by the same people I met at that meeting. They are the colleagues I call when I find myself in a tough spot at work and need advice, the collaborators I work with on grants and projects, and the friends I text when I travel to a new town and want to grab a bite to eat.
Side note: If you’re interested in connecting with colleagues who share similar interests, please visitand review SHM’s Special Interest Groups to find ones that are right for you. To connect on a more local level, find an SHM Chapter near you at .
I’ve shared these stories with you because for me my journey with our society has been a deeply personal one. And I feel indebted to SHM and the incredible people who drawn to it for helping me develop and enjoy a rich and rewarding career thus far. So, as I look forward to the next decade, I wanted to share my thoughts on HM and emerging themes in health care with you.