As course director for the Society of Hospital Medicine’s 2019 annual conference – Hospital Medicine 2019 (HM19) – to be held March 24-27 in National Harbor, Md., Dustin T. Smith, MD, SFHM, hospitalist and associate professor of medicine at Emory University, Atlanta, tried his best to apply democratic processes to the work of the annual conference committee.
“We created numerous email surveys to go out to the 20 committee members for their vote. So many great topics were proposed for HM19, with so many great faculty, that we had to make hard choices – although we see that as a good problem. It was my job to make sure that we had a process that works,” Dr. Smith explained. “We have planned what we believe will be another well-attended and well-received hospital medicine conference. Every year it’s been great, but every year we try something to make it a little better.”
The SHM annual conference committee meets in person at the conference to kick off planning for the following year’s conference, then holds weekly conference calls for the next 4-5 months, Dr. Smith said. “These are all highly creative leaders in hospital medicine, with voices to be heard and taken under consideration.”
Committee members wear badges at the annual meeting to encourage attendees to offer them feedback and suggestions. “We have our ears to the ground. We look at the session ratings from prior years, speaker ratings, and all of the feedback we have received, and we take all of that into account to come up with new ideas for educational tracks,” Dr. Smith said. New for 2019 are “Between the Guidelines” and “Clinical Mastery”. “We went around the table at our meeting and asked everybody for their ideas for new tracks, and then we voted in the most popular ones.”
One change for 2019 was to “completely open” the call for submission of proposals – and for nominations of content to be covered and who should present it – for all sessions at HM19, not just for the workshop tracks. Dr. Smith said all submissions were peer reviewed by committee members and scored with objective ratings.
“For example, there was a lot of interest in emergency and disaster preparedness for hospitalists in a number of the submissions. Whether we’re talking about wildfires or mass shootings, it affects hospitals, and we are among the frontline practitioners for whatever happens in those hospitals. So we may need to be able to respond to large-scale emergencies,” he said. “But most of us haven’t been trained for that.”
A love of teaching
Dr. Smith’s preparation for being the HM19 course director includes his work teaching medical students, residents, and physicians at Emory University where he also attended medical school. He chairs the Emory division of hospital medicine’s education council, directs hospital medicine grand rounds at Emory, and serves as associate program director for the J. Willis Hurst Internal Medicine Residency Program at Emory as well as a section chief for education in medical specialty at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Smith has also codirected, since 2012, the annual Southern Hospital Medicine regional conference.