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Definition of a Hospitalist and Hospital Medicine

Hospital medicine:  A medical specialty dedicated to the delivery of comprehensive medical care to hospitalized patients. Practitioners of hospital medicine include physicians (“hospitalists”) and non-physician providers who engage in clinical care, teaching, research, or leadership in the field of general hospital medicine.  In addition to their core expertise managing the clinical problems of acutely ill, hospitalized patients, hospital medicine practitioners work to enhance the performance of hospitals and healthcare systems by:

  • Prompt and complete attention to all patient care needs including diagnosis, treatment, and the performance of medical procedures (within their scope of practice).
  • Employing quality and process improvement techniques
  • Collaboration, communication, and coordination with all physicians and healthcare personnel caring for hospitalized patients
  • Safe transitioning of patient care within the hospital, and from the hospital to the community, which may include oversight of care in post-acute care facilities.
  • Efficient use of hospital and healthcare resources

Hospitalist: A physician who specializes in the practice of hospital medicine.  Following medical school, hospitalists typically undergo residency training in general internal medicine, general pediatrics, or family practice, but may also receive training in other medical disciplines.  Some hospitalists undergo additional post residency training specifically focused on hospital medicine, or acquire other indicators of expertise in the field, such as the Society of Hospital Medicine’s Fellowship in Hospital Medicine (FHM) or the American Board of Internal Medicine’s Recognition of Focused Practice (RFP) in Hospital Medicine.

Approved By SHM Board November 4, 2009

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