The Rewards of Getting Involved

The Hospitalist‘s editorial advisory board is a volunteer group of SHM members who share their time, experience, insight, and ideas to ensure we’re publishing relevant, interesting, and educational content for health care professionals working in hospital medicine. Two-year terms are seated during the SHM annual conference.

This year, Amith Skandhan, MD, FACP, SFHM, associate program director, internal medicine residency program, director of physician integration—Southeast Health Statera Network, medical director/physician liaison—clinical documentation improvement, and internal medicine hospitalist at Southeast Health, in Dothan, Ala., is among the members rotating off the editorial board. But before he does, he shares some thoughts on the work he’s done with the board, his hopes for the future of the magazine, and words of encouragement for the new board members.

You must realize you’re on the board because you bring something unique, such as your area of practice, geographic location, patient population you serve, etc. They want to hear what you have to say, and it’s essential to share your distinct professional point of view.

Dr. Skandhan

Dr. Skandhan

Q: Why did you get involved with The Hospitalist’s editorial board?
Since my first SHM meeting in 2014, I’ve been inspired by the mission of SHM, which is ultimately to promote exceptional care for hospitalized patients. In this pursuit, I signed up for and completed all the courses SHM offered. These studies included the Quality Safety Educators Academy (QSEA), all the levels of the SHM Leadership Academy, and the Academic Hospitalist Academy, among others.

In 2018, as I was the first SHM member and hospitalist to have completed all the courses, I was approached by The Hospitalist for an interview. Through this process, I was exposed to the inner workings of the editorial board, and I was impressed by their professionalism and dedication. After talking to some editorial board members, I realized this was a great opportunity to serve the hospital medicine community. Shortly following the interview, I contacted the editor-in-chief for a chance to join the board. After meeting the requirements for skills and knowledge, the editorial board invited me to join.

Q: What were your responsibilities on the editorial board?
The Hospitalist’s editorial advisory board is a volunteer group of physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and administrators working in hospitalist groups across the U.S. We would meet monthly as well as at the SHM annual meeting, where the two-year terms are seated. During the meetings, the editorial board discusses pressing issues facing hospitalists and recommends topics and subject experts to be interviewed or invited to write articles.

For example, some pressing issues in hospital medicine could be recent changes in treatment management, issues with practice management, or stories that highlight day-to-day hurdles in hospital medicine, etc. We also prioritize diversity, leadership, medical education, and pediatrics topics. In addition, we showcased the creativity of hospitalists through the HM Voices section and highlighted the recent achievements of SHM members through the Movers and Shakers section.

Q: What was your most significant contribution?
Over the last five years with the editorial board, I’ve written articles, been interviewed for various topics, and had lively discussions on different subjects with my fellow members during our meetings.

However, what I remember as a pivotal contribution was when the initial cases of COVID-19 were rising. The timing of our particular board meeting at the beginning of 2020 needs to be highlighted—the COVID-19 global pandemic was not declared yet, and the cases in the U.S. were restricted to geographical pockets. Dealing with coronavirus in the acute care setting was new for health care. There needed to be more data on what to do and how to do it. I still remember the very first discussion we had—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was the only institution with data published—data which would soon rapidly evolve.

Along with one of the other editorial board members, Dr. Kranthi Sitammangari, and one of my then resident physicians, Dr. Arielle Dahlin, we reviewed the CDC documents to develop a summary article, What Hospitalists need to know about COVID-19? This article was published in February 2020 and was periodically updated for the next few weeks based on the latest data. Looking back today, it might seem easy to treat COVID-19. Back then, health care clinicians were just learning about the disease, its pathophysiology, what tests to order, and the treatment options. Multiple hospitalists around the country expressed their gratitude to us for compiling a simplified document with an outline to take care of their patients. During the pandemic, the editorial board continued to keep a close focus on the medical management of COVID-19 and issues related to the pandemic, like the quality of care, scheduling issues, leadership challenges, supply chain hurdles, and burnout.

Q: What was your experience of being on the board? What is the best part and the worst part?
I have been grateful to serve the hospital medicine community over the years through multiple levels of SHM, through my chapter leadership team, various committees, grassroots advocacy, and being on the editorial board of The Hospitalist. However, among all the meetings I have for the month, the editorial board meeting is the one I always looked forward to. The monthly editorial board meeting, through brainstorming sessions, allows you to become close to your colleagues, who are fabulous, thoughtful leaders in hospital medicine. It brings me joy to think about the future editorial board members experiencing the same intellectual stimulation and fondness for one another.

There is no worst part of being on the board. There are occasional challenges when you present a potentially relevant topic or suggest possible authors. The debate and discussion that follows, however, teach you important skills in constructively tackling issues while developing analysis based on conflicting viewpoints and opinions.

Q: What advice do you have for a new incoming board member?
First, a hearty welcome to the new editorial board members! You’re going to love your time on the board. Based on my initial time and overall experience on The Hospitalist’s editorial board, I’m happy to offer you some advice. When I started on the board, I was intimidated by the other board members’ credentials and how close everyone was to each other. You must realize you’re on the board because you bring something unique, such as your area of practice, geographic location, patient population you serve, etc. They want to hear what you have to say, and it’s essential to share your distinct professional point of view.

The position is excellent for professional visibility. However, please remember that this position is unique because it allows you to help and sponsor other hospitalists in your institution or city and across the country who might be great subject matter experts or have an important take on the situation. Through this sponsorship, you can help them grow professionally while increasing your network. And of course, as you spend consistent time on the editorial board, you’ll realize they’re a fun group of people, passionate about hospital medicine, but they also like to joke around and have a great time in each other’s company.

Q: After your term on the board, what do you believe you are leaving behind?
Over the last few years, one of the most crucial works SHM has done at all levels is in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). While the work must be ongoing, it is essential to highlight landmark steps the editorial board has done to address DEI. The patient population, hospitalist population, and SHM members are not homogenous. Everyone comes from a different background and upbringing and may speak other languages. By prioritizing DEI, SHM aims to bring in new ideas by encouraging inclusion, bringing fresh perspectives through diversity, and establishing understanding by finding equitable solutions.

SHM has taken steps to make this happen at various levels. At the level of the editorial board, we have made conscious choices to bring in board members to be more equitable and diverse. Through this new editorial board, we can identify and understand pressing issues different hospital medicine factions face, reduce biases, and promote innovative solutions. Increasing DEI among board members will support hospital medicine by reflecting the communities they serve, increasing SHM member engagement, and reducing health care disparities.

Q: However impossible or improbable the vision may be, what do you hope to see and expect The Hospitalist would look like in the future?
I need to answer this question in two parts; currently, where we are and what might The Hospitalist look like in the future are closely tied to where I would like hospital medicine to be.

Hospitalists are extraordinary clinicians, coordinators, and collaborators in acute care medicine. However, our duties and roles are more than direct individual patient care. Often, we need to remember how vital our parts are in improving quality, facilitating better systems and processes, and promoting revenue optimization, especially as we’re the ones closest to the work. Our roles are further tied to patient flow, efficiency, patient experience, and value-based care. Additionally, we are a crucial cog in the wheel of population health and clinical informatics. While each hospitalist and hospital medicine group face similar hurdles, we deal with these system pressures differently and often don’t share our successes and failures. In turn, this leads us constantly try to reinvent the wheel.

The Hospitalist is a magazine focusing specifically on hospitalists and hospital medicine. While we sometimes focus on and discuss crucial clinical literature relevant to hospitalists, this is a platform where we encourage stories and topics that affect hospitalists.

My idealistic view of The Hospitalist is in a world where the health care providers, health systems, and more extensive health care apparatus understand the role and importance of hospitalists and hospital medicine. In this ideal world, hospitalists across the country constantly learn from each other, focusing on the larger vision of health care through a human-centered design lens to facilitate continuous improvement, optimize quality, and prioritize efficiency while balancing wellness needs. In this world, the role of The Hospitalist is to share stories of success, lessons learned, and the monthly clinically relevant literature pertinent to hospitalists.

I picture the readers of The Hospitalist in every hospitalist in the country. It’s a magazine they have around lunch tables, and they use the topics published to have lively discussions with colleagues. I picture hospitalists empathizing with impactful issues, entertaining themselves with humor stories, and educating themselves with the latest evidence-based medicine changes. I picture the readers frequently interacting with The Hospitalist, its authors, its editorial board, and other readers, through which they will develop professionally.

The Hospitalist and SHM thank Dr. Skandhan for his commitment, enthusiasm, and participation on the editorial board.

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