Little is known about the personal characteristics, work-related attitudes, or professional experiences of hospitalists. In considering the future of hospital medicine as a viable career choice for physicians (primarily, internists), these issues should be examined in a systematic fashion. Learning more about hospitalists and their work can enhance dialogue about the advantages and shortcomings of such a career from the perspective of the individual physician.
A self-administered mail survey was sent to 820 hospitalists who are dues-paying members of the National Association of Inpatient Physicians and who spend 50% or more of their time doing clinical work, teaching, or research related to hospital medicine. Attitudes about topics such as job-related burnout and job satisfaction were tapped, as well as information about different professional and social experiences. The analyses were performed using descriptive statistics and analysis of variance techniques.
Analysis was based on 393 responses (48% response rate). Results show hospitalists to be a group of younger, mostly male, early-career individuals with high levels of job satisfaction and autonomy, low levels of burnout, and a long-term commitment to remaining in the role. Hospital medicine is a source of positive social and professional work experiences related to interactions with physician peers, patients and their families, and nonphysician hospital coworkers. Key components of hospitalists' jobs, practices, and workload are coalescing. However, certain developments, such as changing patterns of compensation and the enlisting of more general internists and women as hospitalists, merit further examination.
The results offer insight into the physicians who are becoming hospitalists, the jobs and settings in which they work, and how hospitalists experience their everyday work lives. Valuable baseline data are provided for assessment of attitudes, such as burnout, that should be examined regularly in this fledgling group. This study complements research looking at the performance-related outcomes of hospitalists, and it can be used by various stakeholders to better understand and assess the long-term potential of what is being proposed as a new career path.