From the Society

Pediatrics Committee’s role amplified with subspecialty’s evolution

New chair Sandra Gage, MD, PhD, SFHM, experiences growth alongside SHM.


Editor’s note: Each month, SHM puts the spotlight on some of our most active members who are making substantial contributions to hospital medicine. For more information on how you can lend your expertise to help SHM improve the care of hospitalized patients, log on to

This month, The Hospitalist spotlights Sandra Gage, MD, PhD, SFHM, associate professor of pediatrics in the section of hospital medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, newly appointed chair of SHM’s Pediatrics Committee, and SHM member of almost 20 years.

Why did you choose a career in pediatric hospital medicine, and how did you become an SHM member?

I would say that pediatric hospital medicine chose me. After obtaining a degree in physical therapy and spending five years treating children with a variety of neurological and neurodevelopmental disorders, I went back to school to get my MD and a PhD in neurobiology, thinking that I would specialize in either pediatric neurology or pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation.

I always had an interest in treating children but never considered general pediatrics because spending my time in the outpatient clinic setting had little appeal for me. This was before the concept of being a “hospitalist” was widespread – and even before the phrase was coined – but there were a few providers in my academic pediatric group who focused on inpatient care. The pace, variety and challenge of treating hospitalized children was exactly what I was looking for, and, following completion of my pediatric residency, I slowly became a full-time hospitalist.

Dr. Sandra Gage, chair of SHM's Pediatrics Committee

Dr. Sandra Gage

I joined SHM (then NAIP) on completion of my residency in 1998, shortly after the organization was founded, and was thrilled to find a national group of like-minded physicians. Because of the constraints of a large family and rapidly growing clinical responsibilities, my initial involvement with SHM was mostly as an avid reader of the Journal of Hospital Medicine from afar. Over the last ten years, I have been able to attend the annual meetings and get involved on the national level, which has exponentially increased the value of my membership.

What is the Pediatrics Committee currently working on, and what do you hope to accomplish during your term as Committee Chair?

With subspecialty status coming soon, rapidly expanding interest in the profession and the introduction of hospitalists into more areas of care, the landscape of pediatric hospital medicine is ever-changing. This amplifies the importance of the Pediatrics Committee’s role. The overall goals of the committee are to promote the growth and development of pediatric hospital medicine as a field and to provide educational and practical resources for individual practitioners.

The 2017-2018 committee comprises enthusiastic members from a wide variety of practice settings. At our first meeting in May, we formulated many exciting and innovative ideas to achieve our goals. As we continue to narrow down our approach and finalize our tasks for the year, we are also beginning to determine the content for the pediatric track at HM18. An example of a project the committee has executed in the past is the development of hospitalist-specific American Board of Pediatrics Maintenance of Certification modules for the SHM Learning Portal. In addition, the 2017 Pediatric Hospital Medicine (PHM) meeting is hosted by SHM this July in Nashville, and many Pediatrics Committee members are hard at work on finalizing those plans.

How has the PHM meeting evolved since its inception, and what value do you find in attending?

I have been an attendee of PHM many times over the years. The meeting has grown from a small group of no more than 100 individuals in a few hotel meeting rooms to more than 1,000 attendees and a wide variety of tracks and offerings. The growth of this meeting is truly reflective of the growth of our subspecialty, and the meeting brings together practitioners, both old and new, in an atmosphere full of innovations and ideas. Like SHM’s annual meeting, the PHM meeting is a great place for learning, sharing, and networking.

What advice do you have for fellow pediatric hospitalists during this transformational time in health care?

The direction of health care has provided fodder for lively discussion since I started my career 20 years ago. The nature of the practice of medicine is evolving, and, as physicians, we must be adept at navigating the changing climate while maintaining our goal of providing excellent care for our patients. As hospitalists, we have the opportunity to be in the forefront of the changes that will impact hospital care and utilization.

Whether our work is done at a local or a national level, as a group or as individuals, I believe that hospitalists will have an active role in directing the course of the future of medicine. We spend much of our clinical time advocating for our patients, but your experience is important and your voice can make an important contribution to the direction of health care for one child or for all children. Whether it is in the hospital hallway or on the Hill, continue to strive to do what you already do best.

Felicia Steele is SHM’s communications coordinator.

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