If your child has to be admitted to the hospital, you may assume your own pediatrician will take care of him or her. Many people are surprised to find out this may not be the case. An increasing number of hospitals are hiring hospitalists to take care of pediatric patients who require admission to the pediatric unit.
A hospitalist is a pediatrician who specializes in the care of the sick, hospitalized child. Some hospitalists only care for patients admitted to the pediatric floor, while others cover the newborn nursery, Emergency Room, and even the Intensive Care Unit in smaller community hospitals. While extra training is not yet required beyond a general pediatric residency, some hospitalists choose to complete an extra three years of training to improve their skills.
There are several reasons hospitals choose to hire hospitalists. Studies have shown that hospitalists decrease the time a patient stays in the hospital. Doctors who practice only hospital medicine are able to hone their skills taking care of sick patients. They are also physically in the hospital for several hours a day, as opposed to a general pediatrician, who may only have time to stop by and see a patient for a few minutes before or after office hours. Because of their physical presence, hospitalists are also more able to respond to any emergencies that may occur.
Hospitalists consider communication with your child’s pediatrician of utmost importance. A summary of your child’s hospital stay will likely be relayed to the pediatrician by phone, fax, or email to ensure a seamless transition once your child leaves the hospital.
Often, hospitalists play a role in the hospital system beyond patient care. Many sit on hospital committees, develop hospital policies, are involved in research, and provide education by serving as an attending physician to pediatric residents and medical students.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, April 2019
- A hospitalist is a pediatrician who specializes in the care of the sick, hospitalized child.
- Studies have shown that hospitalists decrease the time a patient stays in the hospital.
- Some hospitalists choose to complete an extra three years of training to improve their skills.