Hospitalists: 'I Don't Get No Respect'

Shelly Reese


August 30, 2016

In This Article

Struggling to Be Taken Seriously

Hospitalist medicine celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, but even as hospitalists blow out the candles on the cake, many of their roughly 50,000 strong are echoing Rodney Dangerfield's famous catchphrase: "I don't get no respect."

During a recent roundtable discussion, hospitalists shared their frustrations with Medscape. Far from treating hospitalists as the team lead in a hospital setting, "other professionals and patients may treat us as interns," noted one. Another complained that specialists expect hospitalists to "ease their burden" but treat them as if they "can't be bothered."

In 2012, Today's Hospitalist conducted a survey to gauge respondents' feelings about their professional standing. Less than 70% said they felt respected by nonhospitalists in their facilities, and only 55% thought that hospital administrators considered their group's input in making decisions.[1]

Four years later, respect is still top of mind for many hospitalists. In December 2015, surgeon James Merlino, MD, president and CMO of Press Ganey's strategic consulting division, penned a physician perspective for Becker's Hospital Review[2] based on feedback from hospitalists at three hospitals in different parts of the country. In those conversations, hospitalists complained about their specialist colleagues—and in some cases, surgical residents—for failing to return calls, ignoring consults, or providing patients with information without first conferring with the hospitalist in charge of their care.

The hospitalists' consensus conclusion: "No one respects us."

Given the potentially devastating consequences that such communication issues might have on patient safety and physician burnout, the situation begs the questions: What's going on, and what can be done about it?


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