Dr. Doan has already given us his advice for those pursuing a career as a Hospitalist. If you're interested in fast-paced, high-acuity complex care, you might also be wondering if Hospital Medicine might be a good fit for your lifestyle. There are some realities about the Hospitalist lifestyle to be aware of before you pursue your Maintenance of Certification in Hospital Medicine. Here are 7 realities to consider.
You'll Never Live the Same Day Twice
As a Hospitalist, you'll never feel like you've been trapped in the movie Groundhog Day, because each day is quite a bit different . You'll be seeing new patients and facing new challenges each day. You won't have the "normal" routine of spending around 15 minutes with each patient, you'll have some flexibility with your time.
"One plus of being a Hospitalist is that you have a lot of flexibility in the patients you are seeing, one patient may take 15 minutes, another might take an hour." —Cuong Doan, MD
You'll Have a Fast-Paced Work Day
Unlike Outpatient Medicine or Primary Care, where you'll have a more long-term and longitudinal relationship with your patients, Hospital Medicine offers a different type of relationship with your patients. You'll be able to offer test results to your patients right away and work with them on a treatment plan right then and there.
"A lot of the residents who are interested in seeing high acuity find it very rewarding to get the results back and do the test right away and then be able to act on those results and intervene on them. They propose a management strategy that will help take care of the patient relatively quick. So, it is more immediate gratification, you don’t have to wait a week later to get the results and then talk to the patient in a follow up visit."—Cuong Doan, MD
You'll Be Up Early In the AM
At this point in your medical career, perhaps you've already kissed your days of sleeping in goodbye. But, if you consider yourself an early bird, then the life of a hospitalist might be right for you! You'll most likely be up and in the hospital bright and early.
"My day typically starts at 6:30 - 7:00 a.m. and the day can end at any time really, based on your workload and how much time you spend with the patients." —Cuong Doan, MD
You'll Be Challenged to Always Stay Current With Medical Updates
Like we mentioned in our first point, each day is going to be different! With new cases and patients each day, you're going to have to stay current with the most recent guidelines.
"Being a hospitalist, you are challenged to always be on the forefront of the latest information and latest data of management, such as, pneumonia, heart failure, and currently, COVID patients. You are always challenged to know the latest recommendations and how to take care of these patients in the hospital." —Cuong Doan, MD
There's a High Risk of Burnout
Compared to the rest of the U.S. working population, physicians are at an increased risk for burnout and less likely to be satisfied with their work-life balance. In our interview with Dr. Doan, he stressed the importance of having hobbies and interests outside of the hospital. He said that he and his family do a lot of activities outdoors, like to travel, and try different ethnic foods. Getting involved in interests outside of work helps Dr. Doan to prevent burnout and not get too overwhelmed with the Hospitalist lifestyle.
"[Being a Hospitalist] is demanding and fast paced, so we recommend that physicians who go into Hospital Medicine have a good work/life balance. You might work a lot of shifts and if you do too much working and you don’t have any other outlets, there is a high risk for burnout. That is where that work/life balance comes in. So, make sure you're not overworking, and having enjoyment outside of work." —Cuong Doan, MD
You Won't Bring Your Work Home With You at the End of the Day
You hear a lot of people say that they "bring their work home with them." As a Hospitalist you might find it easier to leave your work at work. Unless you’re on call, you're not checking on patients after you leave the hospital. Once you get home, focus on your own needs and those of your family. They’ll pick up on it if your mind is elsewhere.
"The job itself does lend to being able to separate the job from the home life. Once you leave, or once you are done with, say, a rounding stretch, you’re not always thinking about that work. That work is pretty set. Then, you can enjoy what you have at home or other interests in life."—Cuong Doan, MD
You Might Have to Work Holidays and Weekends
Does working on Thanksgiving or on a Saturday make you cringe? It's important to note that a Hospitalist lifestyle requires them to work non-traditional hours. Share your schedule with those important to you as soon as you have it. That way, you can plan “together” time. This may mean a quick daily chat with your partner over coffee or a weekly outing with family or friends on your day off, but meeting regularly, however briefly, can help you feel closer when you're working holidays and weekends.
Even though working non-traditional hours may be hard on your work/life balance, there are some upsides, like having time during the week to run errands.
"You are expected to work weekends, holidays, days, nights, because a patient that is sick and needs to come into the hospital could come in anytime there is no set schedule for when sick patients need to come into the hospital."—Cuong Doan, MD
Interested in a career in Hospital Medicine? Or maybe you're already a Hospitalist and taking the Hospitalist exam? The Hospitalist highlights in the Internal Medicine Core cover the main topics you'll see in the FPHM Exam. If you're looking for a way to cover clinical quality measurements, consultative co-management, hospital-based prevention strategies, and scenarios in ethics and palliative care Hospital Medicine Basics is the way to go.
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