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Specialty Hospitalists Will Revolutionize Inpatient Care

John Nelson, MD, October 14, 2011

Fifteen years ago, hospitals and physicians began to warm to a revolutionary idea: hospital-based physicians could provide the same, or a better level of care to a patient in the hospital as a primary care physician. Today, hospitalists now work in every major hospital across the country.

Today, a similarly revolutionary idea is taking hold in hospitals, an idea that is changing the way hospital and healthcare leaders look at the caregivers that staff their hospitals. Doctors in nearly every specialty are choosing to adopt the hospitalist model of practice.

In addition to the "legacy" hospitalist fields of adult and pediatric medicine, specialties like neurology, general surgery, obstetrics, psychiatry, orthopedics, gastroenterology, cardiology, and others are, in some settings, choosing to organize themselves into a hospitalist model of practice.

There are even dermatology and ENT hospitalists. Look at recruitment advertisements in the back of medical publications and you'll see pitches for some of these positions. There are no precise statistics available to document the number of doctors in each specialty currently practicing in the hospitalist model. But there is a lot of anecdotal and indirect evidence.

A Web site devoted to obstetric hospitalists ("laborists") currently lists 134 such practices. The Neurohospitalist Society already has an affiliated journal, The Neurohospitalist, entering its second year of publication.

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