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SHM Challenges Hospitalists to Recruit Medical Students, House Staff


Dr. Howell is president of SHM.
If you have teaching responsibilities, make sure your team knows that you are a hospitalist! If you have contact with residents or students, invite them to a local chapter meeting. At the very least, email them a link to SHM and the ZDoggMD video—they'll love it.

By the time you read this, SHM will have completed another amazing annual meeting, very likely smashing some records in the process. Pre-courses have been taught, Washington’s Capitol Hill “visited,” lectures communicated, Bob Wachter’s update … updated. Staff at SHM will be busy crunching numbers and analyzing data so they can quantify the success and uniqueness of HM13.

It was at HM13 that I was lucky enough to meet many of you who are hospitalists just like me. Between Bob Wachter and Larry Wellikson, I also was able to muscle in on stage for a few minutes and share a glimpse of what I am passionate about. If you were there, you know I challenged our society to double the number of student and house staff members to 1,000. I launched the effort by inducting a special medical student (at least to me!), my sister, Lesley Sutherland (see “I Am No. 1,000,” below), bringing the new total number needed down to 999. I plan to repeatedly induct students and housestaff over the next year, and I hope many of you will, too.

As a society, we have had phenomenal membership growth over the past 15 years, expanding from a few hundred members to more than 11,000. SHM’s growth is a tremendous success story; in all of health care’s history, no other medical specialty’s ranks have grown as quickly as HM has.

But virtually all of our growth has come from board-certified (BC) or board-eligible (BE) physicians; very little has come from house officers or students. Over the last four years alone, the society has gone from 9,850 to 11,731 total members, an impressive 16% increase. However, during that same period, housestaff members have remained at about 400. This year, student members barely number 100.

This surprises me.

Five Easy Steps to Attract New Students and House Officers to SHM

  1. Identify yourself as a hospitalist. Some students and house staff might not know that you’re part of the movement.
  2. Tell your story. Tell young students what you enjoy about being a hospitalist.
  3. Bring them along! Invite a student to join you at chapter meeting or other hospital medicine event.
  4. Encourage students to join SHM. It’s a great deal and provides access and education that they can’t get anywhere else.
  5. Circulate SHM’s call for RIV submissions. Every year, hundreds of students and house officers submit proposals for SHM’s Research, Innovations, and Clinical Vignettes (RIV) poster session at the annual meeting. It’s an opportunity to start a career-launching CV early.

The Connection: Students and House Officers

It surprises me because, as best I can tell, HM is a career path that meets many of the interests of the new generation of students and house officers. Based on my totally unscientific analysis (I asked my sister, her colleagues, and the house officers with whom I work), many are interested in shorter training, flexible schedules, work-life balance, excitement, and a decent salary. Some report wanting to focus on patient safety, teaching, leadership, and teamwork. If those aren’t what drew the “BC/BE” physicians to HM in droves, I don’t know what did.

That leads me to believe that SHM and, more broadly, HM have exactly what students are looking for.

But HM isn’t just good for medical students and house officers. More students and house officers are also good for the specialty. There continues to be a constant demand for hospitalists in hospitals across the country, and growing SHM’s ranks clearly has a positive benefit for all of our members.

Most important, though: Attracting more students and house officers to HM is good for health care and patients. Hospitalists have proven their value as trusted caregivers for patients and stewards of the hospital. And more hospitalists can only help to achieve our common goal of truly transforming health care and revolutionizing patient care.

All we need to do is to connect students and house officers to our society. Fortunately, many in SHM already are working on just that.

How SHM Members are Connecting, and How You Can, Too

The Physicians in Training (PIT) Committee has been focusing on this topic for the past year. Through the leadership of Drs. Vineet “Vinny” Arora and Darlene Tad-y, PIT has developed a multistep approach to increase student and house officer involvement, including outreach, educational programs, and trainee-specific SHM offerings (e.g. a student/resident section).

Some regional chapters, such as the Boston-area chapter of SHM, have begun to provide awards to trainees, complete with money to travel to the annual meeting. I also know that the Greater Baltimore-area chapter has put on a job fair each year for the past two years. SHM, the staff, and PIT are expanding these ideas, with plans to make SHM a professional home for students and house officers alike.

But local chapters, SHM staff, and even the PIT Committee likely cannot meet the challenge to increase student and resident membership to 1,000 by HM14 alone. We will need the broader participation of the SHM membership—and that means you!

If you’re a hospitalist with teaching responsibilities, make sure your team knows that you are a hospitalist! If you have contact with residents or students, invite them to a local chapter meeting. At the very least, email them a link to SHM and the ZDoggMD video shown at HM13—they’ll love it.

Tell them that student membership is free, and the resident membership fee is the lowest it has ever been: $100 annually, one of the lowest fees for residents of a professional society. With that membership comes a world of networking, opportunities for professional growth, and the opportunity to be a part of something special.

There are more than 64,000 students and 25,000 house staff across the country. Help me connect just 999 more of them to SHM.

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