From the Society

A ‘hospitalist plus’: Grace C. Huang, MD

How has COVID-19 impacted hospitalist practice, and what changes will outlast the pandemic?

What you read in the lay press has put a spotlight on hospital-based work. What has been shared resonates with my own experience – the loss of connection from visitor restrictions, the isolation patients experience when everyone is wearing personal protective equipment, the worsening of everything that was already hard to begin with, like health care disparities, mental health, access to community supports, financial challenges, the disproportionate burden on unpaid caregivers, etc.

After the pandemic is “over,” I hope that we will retain a sense of intentionality how we address limited resources, the importance of social connection, the structural racism that has disadvantaged patients and physicians of color.

How will hospital medicine as a field change in the next decade or 2?

The hospitalist model has already influenced other specialties, like ob.gyn., neurology, and cardiology, and I expect that to continue. Hospitalists have already become leaders at the highest levels, and we will see them in higher numbers throughout health care leadership.

Are there any particular mentors who have been influential in your journey as a hospitalist?

Because I’m one of the older hospitalists in my group, there were fewer mentors, other than my boss, Joe Li, MD, SFHM, [section chief in hospital medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess], who has been an amazing role model. I think also of my colleagues as peer mentors, who continue to push me to be a better doctor. Whether it means remaining curious during the physical exam, or inspiring me with their excitement about clinical cases.

Do you have any advice for students and residents interested in hospital medicine?

When I talk to trainees about career development as a hospitalist, I encourage them to think about what will make them a “Hospitalist Plus.” Whether that Plus is teaching, research, or leadership, being a hospitalist gives you an opportunity to extend your impact as a physician into related realm.

I look around at our hospital medicine group, and every person has their Plus. We have educators, quality improvement leaders, a health services researcher, a health policy expert, a textbook editor – everyone brings special expertise to the group. My Plus now is much bigger than my footprint as a hospitalist, but I would never have gotten here had I not chosen a career path that would allow me to explore the farthest reaches of my potential as a physician.

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