Hospitalist Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Hospitalist, or Hospital Medicine Clinician, is a type of general physician who is responsible for providing care to patients during their stay at a hospital. Their duties include managing schedules for inpatient treatments and coordinating care providers, ordering tests and maintaining medical records for their patients.

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Hospitalist Duties and Responsibilities

Focusing primarily on hospitalized patients, the Hospitalist has the unique ability to follow up on patient care, discuss patient care with nurses and resolve any problems that may arise, often seeing patients more than once a day. While attending their own patients, the Hospitalist will also coordinate care between different doctors caring for a patient, serve as point of contact for hospital staff and maintain communication with the patient’s family.

Hospitalists generally service on committees and work to help improve efficiency, patient care and infection control while fostering teamwork and improving communication between staff and physicians. Hospitalists serve as a working liaison between administration and physicians.

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What Does a Hospitalist Do?

Hospitalists can work at any type of hospital, including general hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, children’s hospitals and long-term care hospitals to develop and implement medical treatment plans. They often work with people who struggle with housing insecurity or are uninsured who don’t have a Primary Care Practitioner. Hospitalists can perform medical procedures, refer patients to specialists, conduct research and make recommendations to improve hospital processes. They work with patients through the entire process of being hospitalized, including patient admission and post-treatment recovery care. Hospitalists work to optimize the flow of patients and fill in gaps to support other hospital employees.

Hospitalist Skills and Qualifications

  • Ability to multitask: Since a Hospitalist is located at the hospital, they should be able to handle multiple responsibilities concurrently. If they are overseeing a patient and have important committee meetings, they should be able to order the appropriate tests and focus on the meeting at the same time.
  • Prioritization: The Hospitalist is a leadership role as well as a physician. The ability to evaluate what must be done and rearranging the day according to importance will enable the Hospitalist to be successful in this role.
  • Professionalism: As a liaison between hospital administration and physicians as well as a practicing physician, a professional demeanor is necessary as a Hospitalist. Conveying news to a patient’s family that could be detrimental must be handled in the most professional manner.
  • Superb communication skills: Relaying policy and structural changes to physicians already carrying a heavy workload must be handled with the appropriate amount of appreciation and authority. The Hospitalist must also be able to communicate via email, memos and staff notices.

Hospitalist Salary Expectations

Hospitalists have an average annual salary of $246,117. This range can be lower if the candidate has less administrative experience or the hospital they are applying with has fewer beds. Smaller medical groups hiring for a Hospitalist also tend to offer less than the average salary. To achieve a higher range of salaries, working at a larger hospital with more beds, working at a regional facility or some traveling may be involved.

Hospitalist Education and Training Requirements

The majority of Hospitalists have a doctorate degree. In order to be a practicing physician, they must hold a degree and have completed an internship and residency. Many Hospitalists also hold graduate degrees in business administration, hospitality management, political science and foreign language. On rare occasions, a Hospitalist will hold a master’s degree. A Hospitalist must be board-certified to practice medicine.

Hospitalist Experience Requirements

A Hospitalist must have experience working with acutely ill patients. They typically work with patients who have been hospitalized due to an acute onset and not as a family practitioner, so it’s best to have experience with this type of illness. An administrative background is beneficial as well as the Hospitalist is a bridge between hospital physicians and administration. A medical background, internship and residencies are required as you must be certified to practice medicine. Experience working within a team of physicians is also helpful in the Hospitalist role as there is often a need to coordinate care between doctors and departments within the hospital.

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Frequently asked questions about Hospitalists


What is the difference between a Hospitalist and an Internist?

Hospitalists and Internists are both physicians, but they have different work environments and focus on providing different types of care. Internists provide internal medicine care, addressing how the organ systems interact and how internal diseases impact health. They can work at a hospital or provide outpatient care. Hospitalists work with patients that get healthcare in a hospital environment. Many Hospitalists train as Internists to learn about general medicine before deciding to specialize in a hospital environment. Hospitalists usually treat patients on a case-by-case basis while Internists may have a long-term doctor-patient relationship with the people they treat.


What are the daily duties of a Hospitalist?

Hospitalists can work variable hours to accommodate the day or night shift. They begin their shift by talking to the admitting Physician from the previous shift about new patients or outstanding problems with current patients. Hospitalists review patient files and interpret tests like blood panels and x-ray scans. Once they are organized, they attend to patients who have not been assigned to another nurse or doctor. They may adjust their schedule if a patient suddenly gets worse or needs urgent care. They begin the discharge process when applicable and may talk with a case manager about solutions for follow-up care.


What are the qualities of a good Hospitalist?

Good Hospitalists are flexible and adaptable enough to quickly come up with care plans when unscheduled patients arrive at the hospital. They have a holistic mindset and think about not only the immediate ways they can treat a patient but also the long-term care options and external factors that could be contributing to health issues. Successful Hospitalists are naturally organized and look for strategic ways to improve turnover at the hospital clinic for new patients without sacrificing the quality of care they receive. They are caring and comfortable advocating for their patient’s needs and helping them navigate the healthcare system.


What should you look for on a Hospitalist's resume?

Experience in a hospital environment is essential for a Hospitalist because they need to have an in-depth understanding of hospital processes. Look for resumes that emphasize organization, leadership and accountability to find candidates that will excel in the multi-dimensional role of a Hospitalist. Top candidates will include specific information about the volume of patients they have managed in the past and how they used their role to improve logistics at the hospital.

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