Learning the ICU


Although deployment of hospitalists into ICUs during the COVID-19 crisis varies widely, in that sense it reflects the pre-COVID hospital landscape of variable involvement, in which many hospitalists pressed into this role expressed discomfort practicing critical care beyond their scope of training, according to a survey published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine in 2018.1 “Hospitalists frequently deliver critical care services without adequate training or support, most prevalently in rural hospitals,” the authors concluded.

Eric Siegal, MD, SFHM, a critical care physician in Milwaukee

Dr. Eric Siegal

A Critical Care for the Hospitalist Series of resources and lectures developed by Eric Siegal, MD, a pulmonologist in Milwaukee, Wisc., and David Aymond, MD, a hospitalist in Alexandria, La., is available on the SHM website. They recommend that hospitalists trying to get oriented to working in the ICU start with the online courses on fluid resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, and noninvasive ventilation.

Dr. David Aymond associate clinical professor of medicine at Louisiana State University, Alexandria, La., and a hospitalist ICU provider at Byrd Regional Hospital, Leesville, La., and Lake Charles (La.) Memorial Hospital

Dr. David Aymond

“Ninety-five percent of management of COVID-19 patients is nothing other than practicing sound critical care medicine,” Dr. Siegal said. “If you want to take effective care of sick COVID patients, you need to develop good foundational critical care skills and knowledge. Without them, you’re doing stuff without understand it.”

Dr. Aymond also encourages hospitalists to develop a stronger understanding of key physiological concepts by reviewing the critical care clinical topics compiled at SHM’s website.


1. Sweigart JR et al. Characterizing hospitalist practice and perceptions of critical care delivery. J Hosp Med. 2018 Jan;13(1):6-12.

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