From the Society

Reflecting on 2021, looking forward to 2022


What I wish went better: Getting credit

As a profession, we need to be more deliberate about getting credit for the fantastic work we have done to care for COVID-19 patients, as well as inpatients in general. SHM can and must focus more on how to highlight the great work hospitalists have done and will continue to do. A greater understanding by the health care industry – as well as the general public – regarding the important role we play for patient care will help add autonomy in our profession, which in turn adds to resilience during these challenging times.


What went well: Membership grew

This is the one thing that we at SHM – and I personally – are most proud of. SHM is a membership society; it is the single most important metric for me personally. If physicians aren’t joining, then we are not meeting our core mission to provide value to hospitalists. My sense is the services SHM provides to hospitalists continue to be of value – even during these strenuous times of the pandemic when we had to be physically distant.

Whether it’s our Government Relations Department advocating for hospitalists in Washington, or the Journal of Hospital Medicine, or this very magazine, The Hospitalist, or SHM’s numerous educational offerings, chapter events, and SHM national meetings (Converge, Pediatric Hospital Medicine, Leadership Academies, Academic Hospitalist Academy, and more), SHM continues to provide hospitalists with vital tools to help you in your career.

This is also very much a two-way street. If you are reading this, know that without you, our members, our success would not be possible. Your passion and partnership drive us to innovate to meet your needs and those of the patients you serve every day. Thank you for your continued support and inspiration.

What could have gone better: Seeing more of you, in person

This is a tough one for me. Everything I worried about going wrong for SHM in 2021 never materialized. A year ago, my fears for SHM were that membership would shrink, finances would dry up, and the SHM staff would leave (by furlough or by choice). Thankfully, membership grew, our finances are in very good shape for any year, let alone a pandemic year, and the staff have remained at SHM and are engaged and dedicated! SHM even received a “Best Place to Work” award from the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Maybe the one regret I have is that we could not do more in-person events. But even there, I think we did better than most. We had some chapter meetings in person, and the October 2021 Leadership Academy hosted 110 hospitalist leaders, in person, at Amelia Island, Fla. That Leadership Academy went off without a hitch, and the early reviews are superb. I am very optimistic about 2022 in-person events!

Looking forward: 2022 and beyond

I have no illusions that 2022 is going to be easy. I know that the pandemic will not be gone (even though cases are falling nationwide as of this writing), that our nation will struggle with how to deal with polarization, and the workplace will continue to be redefined. Yet, I can’t help but be optimistic.

The pandemic will end eventually; all pandemics do. My hope is that young leaders will step forward to help our nation work through the divisive challenges, and some of those leaders will even be hospitalists! I also know that our profession is more vital than ever, for both patients and the health care system. We’re even getting ready to celebrate SHM’s 25th anniversary, and we can’t wait to revisit our humble beginnings while looking at the bright future of our society and our field.

I am working on my 2022 “New Year” goals, but you can be pretty sure they will revolve around making the world a better place, investing in people, and being ethical and transparent.

Dr. Howell is the CEO of the Society of Hospital Medicine.


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