If you’ve never been examined by a hospitalist, don’t feel slighted. In fact, it could be a reason to celebrate, since hospitalists only see patients in the hospital. And chances are, if you had been seen by a hospitalist, you had no idea that you had. So then what exactly is a hospitalist? Here’s more about this very important, but often unheard of, medical specialty.
Hospitalist – Defined
The American Board of Physician Specialists defines hospitalists as “…physicians who have dedicated their careers to hospitalized patients.” Simply put, hospitalists are medical specialists who most often earn a residency in internal medicine and are certified in hospital medicine. While hospitalists confine their practice within a hospital setting, they often specialize in non-medical issues that are relevant to their field of study. That said, if you have been seen by a doctor in a hospital, safe to assume he might have been a hospitalist.
Primary Physicians and Hospitalists – a Continuum of Care
Your primary healthcare provider conducts regular check-ups in his or her office; you also visit your primary physician for specific health concerns, advice, or for referrals to a specialist. Primary physicians also work with you for preventive care, meaning that if they detect certain trends, they will ensure you take appropriate action to stay the course of wellness. Oftentimes, they will refer you to a hospital for tests, procedures or diagnostic exams. It is at this point the patient will be seen in the hospital by the hospitalist.
Unlike primary physicians, hospitalists do not have office hours; that’s because the hospital is their office and they usually work varying shifts. Also, it should be noted that while a hospitalist is often an internist, all internists aren’t hospitalist. However, probably the main difference between a hospitalist and a primary physician is the doctor-patient relationship – while a primary physician has the opportunity to build long-term patient-doctor relationships, sometimes over the course of years or even a lifetime, a hospitalist may only see you once. That being said, a hospitalist often maintains long-term professional relationships with his hospital, as well as strong collaborative associations with the many medical professionals, specialists, staff and administrators within that hospital organization.
Why a Hospitalist is an Advantage to Hospital Patients
It is the hospitalist who takes over the hospital patient’s in-hospital care. As such the hospitalist will consult health records and diagnosis taken by the patient’s primary care physician. However, the hospitalist serves as the sole provider during your hospital stay. And while he may not be the only doctor to visit your room, the hospitalist is responsible for coordinating your care. It is the hospitalist with whom doctors and nurses communicate, and it is he who serves as your medical contact while you are admitted. Additionally, it is the hospitalist who is responsible for delivering updates to patients’ family members.
A Patient Advocate
While you may not get to know the hospitalist as well you would your family doctor, know they are there to serve you. It is the hospitalist who has first-hand knowledge of hospital policy, often serving on various committees. Their presence serves to enhance a hospital patient’s experience. That’s because hospitalists are experts in conditions that land patients in the hospital, and they see and treat patients who have similar conditions over and over again. While your primary physician may not administer care in the middle of the night, the hospitalist is prepared to address concerns as they arise, working closely with hospital staff, the patient and their loved ones to assess the patient’s condition, recommend treatment, order tests and prescribe medications. That being said hospitalists are uniquely qualified to treat complicated health issues – and they love what they do.
Wooster Community Hospitalists – Committed to You
Wooster Community Hospital hospitalists are committed to patient care and are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. If you’re anticipating a hospital stay, allow us to help place your mind at ease. Call (330) 263-8433 to learn more about the hospitalist program at Wooster Community Hospital to make your stay more comfortable and comforting.