GOOD INCOME + PREDICTABLE SHIFT WORK = HOSPITALIST
The American Board of Physician Specialists defines hospitalists as “…physicians who have dedicated their careers to hospitalized patients.”
Simply put, hospitalists are medical specialists who generally completed a residency program in internal medicine or paediatrics.
These physicians chose to practice in the hospital, seeing hospitalized patients only, as opposed to community primary care practice where they see outpatients, and sometimes inpatients.
Both pediatric and adult (internal medicine) hospitalists are in high demand, particularly in rural and suburban areas.
There is a growing trend to also have hospitalist from other specialties as well, including neurology hospitalists who care for patients with nervous system injuries. Obstetrics and gynecology hospitalists who care for women’s health needs in the hospital settings, which may include delivering babies.
WHAT ABOUT THE ICU?
It should be noted that hospitalists are not intensive care doctors (intensivists). Intensivists are often internists or pediatricians who have completed a fellowship in intensive care medicine, or even pulmonary medicine, before caring for the sickest of the sick patients in the hospital: those admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). But depending on where a hospitalist works, they may see ICU patients if there is no intensivist available, or if the hospital has an open ICU model.
CHANCE TO PRACTICE THE FULL SPECTRUM OF CARE
As many of you know, I practiced for some time in the Pacific, where we did not always have specialists available to us for backup. In the Pacific it was very common to have hospitalists who provided ICU care, including ventilation management. So, depending on where you work, you may see a little bit of everything, making this a challenging and fulfilling career.
I know of one hospitalist position that is recruiting right now (22 June 2021) in Hanapepe, Hawai`i (the town that the Disney movie Lilo and Sitch is based in) that requires the hospitalist to cover everything from the emergency room through the ICU and discharge, all while coordinating additional specialty care. Personally, I find a job like that to be very attractive: based in the easy-boing paradise that is Hawai`i, while also providing an opportunity to practice the full-spectrum of medicine. Love it!
WHAT ABOUT INCOME AND SCHEDULES?
One of the attractions of hospitalist medicine, much like emergency medicine, is that it offers a good salary and stable, predictable schedule. Most hospitalists work seven days on, seven days off (known as seven on/seven off in the medical world). The seven days on are usually 7 AM to 7 PM. But that does not mean you have to be in the hospital 12-hours per day. Most will leave the hospital by around 5 PM, but make sure that their phone or pager is still on in case the nursing or other staff have questions.
This means that every other week you are on vacation. Why work 52 weeks a year when you can work 26, and still earn a full-time salary? Did you hear what I just said? As a hospitalist you only work 26 weeks a year! Imagine being on vacation every other week; you could travel, indulge your hobbies, if you want you could invest in other business opportunities, and if you were luck enough to get that job in Hanapepe, you could surf, hike, swim, snorkel, and sit on the beach to your hearts content.
Oh, and the salary, I did promise to tell you about the salary. You probably think that only working half the year means half the salary; well, you would be wrong! Most hospitalist positions pay around $250,000 USD per year in urban areas, and can go as high as $360,000 in rural areas where there is a greater demand. I happen to know that the job in Hanapepe pays around $340,000 per year to live and work in paradise. Hmmm, maybe I should apply?
One more amazing thing: these jobs are generally employed positions, meaning you work for the hospital. This means someone else takes care of billing, covers your malpractice insurance, and pays the nursing and other staff. All you have to do is show up for your shift, which is generally
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