Many patients at hospitals have many questions regarding their physicians. Why can't my primary care doctor oversee my care while in the hospital? How does my current doctor know about my current condition in the hospital? Those questions led to the rise of the hospitalist physician specialty, which is only a few decades old, and is one of the fastest growing specialties.

So why does the profession exist in the first place? Here are a few of the key services that Hospitalists provide to patients.

Safety:

Because patients in hospitals are trained to work in hospitals, they are experienced in dealing with patients in need of critical care, or who are in life threatening situations. They also become more familiar with the policies and inner workings, allowing them to communicate better with their colleagues. This leads to more organized and accurate care by the physicians, and allows them to provide care to more patients than other physicians in related fields could.

Specialty:

While primary healthcare physicians are knowledgeable about conditions that can land their patients in the hospital, they may not be as familiar with the best methods for treatment and care. Because Hospitalists see a variety of cases on a daily basis, they have the expertise to know what to do in complicated scenarios.

Coordination:

In today's world, physicians have to refer patients to a variety of other physicians who are specialized in diagnosing and treating medical conditions. This is particularly true with patients who have to make trips to the hospital. It is critical to have one person be the director and keeper of all information related to the care of these patients. A hospitalist will frequently review patient information, determine what steps need to be taken for the patient's care, and communicate information that other physicians relay to them to nurses and other medical staff.

Availability:

Patients in hospitals require an extensive amount of care from physicians. Having a physician around who is available on the drop of a dime, and who is already familiar with the status of the patient is not only convenient for all parties involved, but it helps the hospital save time and money and ultimately results in better healthcare services provided by the hospital.

So what does it take to become a hospitalist?

Education:

Like all physicians, completion in a four year undergraduate college or university is required. Although no official undergraduate program is required for medical school, the majority of students major in pre-med, biology, or a related field, and will be considered ahead of students in other fields.

Workplace Environment:

Hospitalists deal with many time sensitive cases, and work consistently with patients in critical condition or whom are terminally ill. It is also incredibly rewarding as they can help those patients in their greatest time of need, and help diagnose conditions that others couldn't diagnose, and help those suffering receive the best care possible. Because the hospital is their permanent workplace environment, Hospitalists must be comfortable working in hospitals, and should be comfortable working with the management at the hospital.

Compensation:

Because the hospitalist profession is only a few decades old, salaries continue to climb at a rapid rate, and demand for the profession continues to be in high demand. According to the Medical Group Management Association, in 2008 the median salary was $183,900 and has since climbed to $233,855 in 2011.


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