Being a Hospitalist


As a hospitalist my main weapons are not scalpels or catheters or ET tubes. I’m not pulling 13 hour days in the OR or performing back to back intubations in the ICU. My arsenal relies on my knowledge, my communication skills and my documentation skills.

Hospitalist medicine is still a rather new area of practice, having been around only for a few decades. It may be frustrating as a patient to know you won’t see your personal physician in the hospital, but that also frees up your doctor to devote more time to his or her office patients. Since we are all trained in general medicine in either Internal Medicine or Family Medicine, our job is to know a little bit of everything. I love being able to take a global view of my patients and their health, as opposed to specializing in any one arena. One of my favorite aspects of being a physician is sorting through a complex patient and trying to bring the entire picture into focus. There isn’t anything like the feeling you get when you clinch an elusive diagnosis and get the patient stated on the right path.

Documentation is the lifeblood of hospitalist medicine. We weave the stories of our patients lives and maladies into electronic records. Our words determine how sick someone is considered to be by the insurance company and if they will pay for and reimburse the hospital for our treatment. A simple turn of phrase and semantics can lead to a major reconfiguration of someone’s severity of illness. You learn very quickly the power of your words and how they can alter the shape of your patients’ lives.
Our profession as hospitalists really comes to life at the bedside. At the bedside I’m able to use my words to comfort, to heal, to reassure, to clarify and explain, to make the difficult to understand simple and accessible. In a few short minutes I can go from never having met a patient to gaining their trust, easing their anxiety, and providing them a clear course of action. It’s not always easy. Sometimes there is no answer for the patient’s complaints. Sometimes the tests come back with unexpected, life- changing results. Sometimes the answers we find are not what the patient wants to hear. In its these moments at the bedside that I always remember why I chose to become a physician. That connection you make with a patient, whether you’ve known them 5 minutes or 50 years, it transcends science and data and medicine. It simply goes back to human connection. That connection is the root of everything I do. I am so grateful for the opportunities this job provides me to do it again and again, day after day.

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