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Characteristics of the Pediatric Hospitalist Workforce: Its Roles and Work Environment

Authors: 
Freed GL, Brzoznowski K, Neighbors K, Lakhani I; American Board of Pediatrics, Research Advisory Committee
Year: 
2007
Journal: 
Pediatrics
Pub Med #: 
Abstract: 

Objective
Over the past 10 years, the use of hospitalists has grown in both the adult and pediatric setting as a response to pressure to deliver cost-effective, high-quality care. However, there is a paucity of information regarding the variation in the clinical roles, educational responsibilities, work patterns, and employment characteristics of pediatric hospitalists. This lack of information hampers efforts to define the nature of the field and determine whether any formalized, additional training or experience should be required for physicians in this clinical practice domain.

Design
We conducted a telephone survey of a national sample of pediatric hospitalist program directors (n = 116). Questionnaire items focused on exploring the clinical roles, work patterns, employment characteristics, and training of pediatric hospitalists within each institution. Results were stratified by teaching hospitals, urban/rural location, hospital size, and membership in the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions.

Results
The response rate was 97%. The majority of hospitals surveyed (70%) reported that hospitalists do not generate enough income from professional billing to pay their salaries. Fewer than half (39%) of respondents reported that their hospital measures pediatric clinical outcomes associated with hospitalist care. A total of 42% of hospitalist program directors reported that most of their hospitalists had an average duration of employment of <3 years. In programs with residents, hospitalists serve as teaching attendings for pediatric patients in almost all cases (89%).

Conclusions
Hospital medicine is a rapidly growing enterprise. A better understanding of both its participants, as well as those affected by its practice, will enable planning for a future that meets as many needs as possible while ensuring the best possible care for children.