4 minute read


Education and Training: Bachelor’s degree followed by medical school, internship and residency
Average Salary: $190,000
Job Outlook: Very good

A hospitalist is a relatively new term which is used for doctors who specialize in caring for patients in a hospital. Hospitalists are board certified internists, which means they have attended medical school and completed their residency training and board certification exams in exactly the same way as other internal medicine doctors. The only difference between the two is that hospitalists have chosen to specialize in looking after patients in hospital, rather than practice traditional internal medicine.

Other hospitalists are family doctors or other specialists who have opted to do hospital work, and they include intensive care doctors, kidney doctors, or lung doctors. The advantages of these types of doctors are that they are expert in caring for complicated hospital cases as they have to deal with them on an almost daily basis. It is far better for both the patient and family as they are available in the hospital for the majority of the day so they can talk to patients and family members, and they are able to follow up on test results quickly and efficiently, and can generally deal with any complications which could arise. They will generally visit the patients more than once a day, and are able to explain ongoing treatment to patients and family members.

A lot of hospitalists are involved with hospital committees, and are instrumental in helping to improve areas within hospitals such as reduction of medical errors, improving communication between physicians and staff, and implementing cost effective patient care. Hospitalists are vital for helping to relieve the financial strain on primary care doctors, and they give a much more convenient and efficient service.

A hospitalist is an extremely demanding job, and anyone wishing to pursue this career has to be very people oriented, and must be able to make decisions under pressure and to remain calm in times of stress.

Education and Training Requirements

The education and training requirements for a hospitalist are extremely demanding. The first step is to obtain a bachelor’s degree, which involves four years of undergraduate school. This is followed by medical school, which takes four years to complete. After successfully graduating from medical school it is necessary to complete between three and eight years of internship and residency. It is possible to attend a medical school which offers a combined undergraduate and medical school program, and this can last between six and seven years compared to the more usual eight.

There is huge competition for acceptance into medical school, and a lot of applicants have advanced degrees as well as bachelor’s degrees. After medical school, medical doctors are required to enter a 12 month internship, followed by a residency which usually takes place in the hospital, and this can last anywhere between two and six years.
Once all this training is completed it is necessary to obtain a license and certification as all physicians and surgeons wishing to practice medicine in this country must pass the medical licensing examination.

Getting the Job

Anyone interested in becoming a hospitalist will be ideally placed to hear about job opportunities during their residency, and may well be able to apply for their first job here. Completing a long residency in a hospital is an ideal way to see if this is actually the job for you.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Job prospects for hospitalists should be extremely good, as this is considered a very cost-effective way of treating patients, and as such is likely to become more prevalent. Hospitalists can choose to spend their working career in the hospital, and may advance into more supervisory and managerial roles within this environment. Alternatively they can choose to return to more traditional medicine and start their own practice, or to join a group practice. Others choose to become teachers, or go on to specialize and build their reputation amongst their peers.

Working Conditions and Environment

Although hospitals obviously need to be pretty clean, this is an extremely stressful profession, as you will be required to make life and death decisions. The hours tend to be long, and are frequently antisocial, and it is definitely a real calling. However those who choose to make medicine their career frequently find it extremely rewarding.

Salary and Benefits

Hospitalists are very well paid, as the average salary is around $190,000, although hospitalists are unlikely to earn as much as colleagues who choose to become self-employed or who go on to own their own medical practice. The benefits are likely to include health insurance, contribution to retirement plans, and paid vacations.

Where to Go for More Information

Association of American Medical Colleges
2450 N St. NW
Washington, DC 20037
(202) 828-0400

American Medical Association
515 N State St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(800) 621-8335

Federation of State Medical Boards
P.O. Box 619850
Dallas, TX 75261-9850
(817) 868-4000

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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesHealth & Medicine