Exploring this Job

Volunteering at local hospitals and clinics is a great way to learn more about careers in health care. This will help you to decide if this type of work environment is a good match for your skills and interests. You might also join a volunteer ambulance corps to get additional experience working with patients. You should also conduct information interviews with hospitalists who work at different types of hospitals to understand the various work environments and duties. For example, working at an academic medical center is often much different than working at a small community hospital.

Classes in CPR and first aid will also prove useful. Medical schools consider many things when deciding who should be admitted. In addition to test scores and grades, they often look at an individual's leadership qualities and participation in extracurricular activities. With that in mind, it is a good idea to join school clubs and get involved in civic groups and causes in which you believe.

The Job

Hospitalists do not have private practices. Instead they work for a hospital or health care facility. In this capacity, they provide inpatient care in various types of settings including medical wards, acute care units, emergency rooms, intensive care units, or rehabilitation units or centers. 

Hospitalists serve as the single point of contact for patients from the time they are admitted through their discharge from the hospital. Patients are referred to hospitalists by their primary care physician or by emergency doctors or even specialists.

Within the scope of their job, hospitalists have many responsibilities. To begin with, they care for patients during their hospital stay. Hospitalists discuss treatment options with patients and their families to help determine the best course of action. In order to do this it is necessary to know the patient’s medical history. If the patient has a primary care physician, the hospitalist will keep him or her updated on the patient’s treatment and condition.

Like other physicians, hospitalists prescribe medications and develop treatment regimens. They often refer patients to specialists or other professionals. Hospitalists may order laboratory tests and X rays, as well as interpret the results. 

Once a hospitalist diagnoses patients' conditions, it is their responsibility to treat them and develop a care plan. In many cases, they will also collaborate with other hospital staff and medical professionals to assure the patient has the best care possible. 

An important responsibility of hospitalists is addressing any questions and concerns that a patient or his or her family may have regarding the patient’s medical condition or care. If the patient has a primary care physician, the hospitalist will keep him or her updated on the patient’s treatment and condition.

When patients are discharged, hospitalists refer them to resources helpful to their recovery and any ongoing treatment they may require. In many cases the hospitalist works with a hospital’s discharge team, physical therapists, or medical social workers to assure that the patient will continue his or her treatment and have the resources needed to go home. After patients are discharged from the hospital or facility, they do not generally maintain a relationship with the hospitalist. Instead at that time they will go to their primary care physician for treatment.

In many cases, hospitalists have supervisory responsibilities. They may direct, coordinate, and oversee the nursing and support staff in relation to patient care. Some hospitalists manage the operations of specialty units within the facility. Depending on the facility, they may train and manage medical students, residents, and other health professionals on staff.