The term “hospitalist” was first coined by Robert Wachter and Lee Goldman in their 1996 article, “The Emerging Role of ‘Hospitalists’ in the American Health Care System,” published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Defined simply, hospitalists are physicians with a primary focus on providing general medical care to hospitalized patients.
Since 1996, the hospitalist concept has grown to include a mix of mid-level practitioners, nurses, and/or medical assistants who are also primarily focused on and experienced in the complexities of inpatient care and clinical workflows.
So what is a hospitalist RN, and how does the role differ from a traditional RN? At the center of all successful hospitalist groups and programs is collaboration. Effective communication between the hospitalist and their nursing team is essential. Results of this team-based model – and a key driver of utilizing a hospitalist group – are improved efficiency and quality as well as reduced costs and lengths of stay.
The Jacksonville University College of Health Sciences put together a detailed hospitalist RN job description: “the responsibilities of these RNs include assessing and evaluating patients, and coordinating and managing patient care. In this setting, patient care is delivered while collaborating with patients, their family and members of the healthcare team.”
Hospitalist RNs also find themselves in roles responsible for clinical care coordination, as evidenced by Paula S. Katz’s Today’s Hospitalist article, “Team nurses: taking care of all the details,” covering the successes of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center’s hospital medicine service led by Richard Slataper, MD.
“Working as ‘coordinators of the coordinators,’ as Dr. Slataper calls them, team nurses connect the hospitalists’ plan with primary care providers, chronic disease care clinics, insurers, specialists, home health providers and nursing homes, among others. ‘The nurses,’ he explains, ‘are efficiency experts who improve flow by better coordinating existing resources.’”
If a heavily team-based approach to patient care as well as the hospital environment appeal to you, consider pursuing a career as a hospitalist RN. According to the Society of Hospital Medicine, the number of practicing hospitalists in the US today has grown to 44,000 – nearly quadruple the amount in 2004. As hospitalist programs continue to increase in prevalence, so will the need for dedicated nurses to join their groups.