Hospitalist? What's That?

Alok Patel, MD


June 19, 2018

"Dr Patel, what kind of doctor are you?"

"I am a hospitalist."

"Cool... What is that?"

This exchange happens all the time. People don't really know what hospitalists do. They don't know how to differentiate us from other outpatient or general medicine providers. I think we have a bit of a branding issue, which is weird, because there are certain areas where we uniquely excel: QI (quality improvement), patient safety, and perioperative medicine, for example.

What can we do to differentiate ourselves? The American Board of Medical Specialties has an idea. They propose the Focused Practice in Hospital Medicine pathway. Basically, this is a variation on the general internal medicine maintenance of certification, or MOC, that tests understanding of hospital-based practice areas. Proponents say this will help solidify hospital medicine as a bona fide specialty by pushing the rule of study areas that do not come up in everyday general medicine. I wonder if, one day, hospitalists who take this special test may be more competitive, kind of like pediatric hospitalists who complete a dedicated fellowship.

This all sounds great in theory, but not a lot of hospitalists have actually pursued this new certification. This MOC is more expensive than the general internal medicine exam and there is not a lot of demand for it. Some docs simply do not want to further subspecialize (psst...I'm one of them).

What do you think? Do you believe the Focused Practice in Hospital Medicine pathway will help cement our identity in the jungle of medical subspecialties?

What are your thoughts? We want to hear them.


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