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How to Become a Hospitalist

What Does a Hospitalist Do?

hospitalists talking with surgeons

While many physicians divide their time between the hospital and the office, hospitalists specialize in the care of hospitalized patients with serious medical conditions. Hospitalists can come from any medical background, but most have completed a residency in internal medicine, family medicine, or pediatrics. In addition, a growing number of “specialty” hospitalists practice psychiatry, obstetrics, orthopedics, and general surgery exclusively within the realms of the hospital.

Unlike primary care doctors, hospitalists generally have short-term relationships with their patients. Despite this, they benefit from the satisfaction of caring for people during some of the most difficult times of their lives. Hospitalist care is especially important for patients who don’t have a family doctor to admit them or to visit them while in the hospital.

Duties of hospitalists are quite varied, but include:

  • Managing the care of people recovering from acute injury or illness, including heart attack, stroke, and trauma
  • Working with the surgical team to coordinate patient care after an operation
  • Providing palliative care to help manage pain and relieve distressing symptoms
  • Educating patients and families on health-related topics
  • Ordering and interpreting medical tests
  • Writing and refilling prescriptions, both chronic and acute
  • Consulting with various specialists
  • Facilitating the patient’s transition to the next care setting (e.g. - home, rehabilitation hospital, nursing home)
  • Leading and supporting quality initiatives that improve patient care

Although hospitalists spend most of their time with patients, they also work behind the scenes to make their hospitals safer and more effective at what they do. They often lead committees and initiatives that improve efficiency, focus on quality improvement (QI), promote infection control, and foster teamwork between hospital departments.

Workplace Details

Typically, hospitalists are directly employed by individual hospitals or by larger medical networks. Others work for hospitalist or multi-specialty group practices that subsequently provide staffing to their hospital clients.

It’s not unusual for hospitalists to work a portion of their shifts in post-acute facilities such as nursing homes and rehabilitation hospitals. This allows them to follow their patients in the transition from short to longer-term care, thus providing smoother transitions between these settings.

Hospitalists’ schedules vary by hospital and practice, and options are numerous. Some may choose to work seven 12-hour shifts in a row followed by a full week off. Others work Monday through Friday every week. Still others will work several 24-hours shifts each week. The hospitalists in a department usually rotate night shifts, but some hospitals employ “nocturnist” hospitalists who only work nights.

While the job involves long hours, scheduling flexibility is a major lifestyle perk for hospitalists. Within a group of hospitalists, the team will be able to cover one another’s patients when time off is needed. However, hospitalists should still expect to work their share of weekends and holidays.

Hospital medicine is a patient-focused specialty. Hospitalists spend the majority of their shifts interacting with seriously ill patients and their families. Hospital practice is also highly collaborative. Hospitalists work closely with emergency physicians, specialists, primary care providers, and case managers in order to coordinate their patients’ care. For these reasons and more, strong interpersonal skills are required for anyone considered a career in hospital medicine.

Salary and Job Outlook

State
Average Wage
New York
$177330
California
$201790
Florida
$219010
Texas
$207750
Pennsylvania
$197250

Hover over any state to explore local income and job growth data.

Created with Raphaël 2.1.0 AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE DC FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY

ALABAMA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $117,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 220

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Birmingham$158,980Over $187,200Over $187,200
Huntsville$156,350Over $187,200Over $187,200

ALASKA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $53,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Anchorage$52,370$163,440Over $187,200

ARIZONA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $73,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 18%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 230

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Phoenix$60,600Over $187,200Over $187,200
Tuscon$129,080Over $187,200Over $187,200

ARKANSAS

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $48,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 120

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Little Rock$46,260$78,120Over $187,200
Fort Smith$85,250Over $187,200Over $187,200

CALIFORNIA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $58,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,120

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Los Angeles$87,480Over $187,200Over $187,200
San Francisco Bay$59,510Over $187,200Over $187,200
San Diego$98,080Over $187,200Over $187,200
Sacramento$129,880Over $187,200Over $187,200

COLORADO

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $101,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 25%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 130

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Denver$97,350Over $187,200Over $187,200
Colorado Springs$96,310Over $187,200Over $187,200

CONNECTICUT

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $59,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 270

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Hartford$55,840Over $187,200Over $187,200
Bridgeport$59,120Over $187,200Over $187,200
New Haven$71,070Over $187,200Over $187,200

DELAWARE

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $58,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wilmington$56,810Over $187,200Over $187,200
Dover$95,220Over $187,200Over $187,200

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Median Salary: 
$168,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $56,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Washington DC$70,350$174,880Over $187,200

FLORIDA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $49,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 28%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,030

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Miami$53,920Over $187,200Over $187,200
Orlando$130,920Over $187,200Over $187,200
Tampa$47,580Over $187,200Over $187,200
Jacksonville$43,140$124,870Over $187,200

GEORGIA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $92,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 33%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 770

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Atlanta$140,960Over $187,200Over $187,200
Augusta$45,100$88,300Over $187,200

HAWAII

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $76,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 6%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Honolulu$67,970Over $187,200Over $187,200

IDAHO

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $92,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

Job Growth Data Not Available

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boise$62,640Over $187,200Over $187,200
Idaho Falls$118,280Over $187,200Over $187,200

ILLINOIS

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $52,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 570

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Chicago$50,030$177,170Over $187,200
Rockford$61,820$174,500Over $187,200

INDIANA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $112,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 19%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 420

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Indianapolis$95,880Over $187,200Over $187,200
South Bend$68,610Over $187,200Over $187,200
Fort Wayne$132,920Over $187,200Over $187,200

IOWA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $101,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 100

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Des Moines$69,780Over $187,200Over $187,200
Cedar Rapids$115,170$181,940Over $187,200

KANSAS

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $46,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 140

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wichita$146,690Over $187,200Over $187,200
Kansas City$45,950Over $187,200Over $187,200

KENTUCKY

Median Salary: 
$183,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $52,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 270

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Louisville$54,790$131,970Over $187,200

LOUISIANA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $103,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 210

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New Orleans$135,540$185,360Over $187,200
Baton Rouge$157,080Over $187,200Over $187,200
Lafayette$85,520$121,150Over $187,200

MAINE

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $58,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$54,360Over $187,200Over $187,200
Lewiston$166,570Over $187,200Over $187,200

MARYLAND

Median Salary: 
$173,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $83,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 430

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Baltimore$60,040Over $187,200Over $187,200
Frederick$84,080$132,830Over $187,200

MASSACHUSETTS

Median Salary: 
$169,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $55,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 370

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boston$54,360$79,440Over $187,200
Worcester$54,050$178,540Over $187,200
Springfield$55,170$155,220Over $187,200

MICHIGAN

Median Salary: 
$176,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $52,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 440

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Detroit$48,730$162,580Over $187,200
Grand Rapids$109,540Over $187,200Over $187,200

MINNESOTA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $137,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 160

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Minneapolis - St. Paul$134,390Over $187,200Over $187,200
Rochester$104,470Over $187,200Over $187,200

MISSISSIPPI

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $44,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Gulfport$85,890Over $187,200Over $187,200

MISSOURI

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $82,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 140

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
St. Louis$83,530Over $187,200Over $187,200
Kansas City$45,950Over $187,200Over $187,200

MONTANA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $136,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Billings$177,170Over $187,200Over $187,200
Missoula$117,150Over $187,200Over $187,200

NEBRASKA

Median Salary: 
$133,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $53,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Omaha$53,470$86,890Over $187,200
Lincoln$83,520Over $187,200Over $187,200

NEVADA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $57,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 26%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Las Vegas$52,710Over $187,200Over $187,200
Reno$69,870Over $187,200Over $187,200

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $158,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Manchester$158,400Over $187,200Over $187,200
NashuaOver $187,200Over $187,200Over $187,200

NEW JERSEY

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $56,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 580

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Newark$54,470$178,330Over $187,200
Trenton$56,120$186,780Over $187,200

NEW MEXICO

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $86,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Albuquerque$49,620Over $187,200Over $187,200
Las Cruces$28,800Over $187,200Over $187,200

NEW YORK

Median Salary: 
$170,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $60,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,880

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New York City$59,850$161,480Over $187,200
Buffalo$46,140Over $187,200Over $187,200
Rochester$52,630$133,470Over $187,200
Albany$54,820$170,340Over $187,200

NORTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $56,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 530

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Charlotte$113,770Over $187,200Over $187,200
Raleigh$149,440Over $187,200Over $187,200
Greensboro$185,510Over $187,200Over $187,200
Winston - Salem$92,590Over $187,200Over $187,200

NORTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $92,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Fargo$151,250Over $187,200Over $187,200
Bismarck$186,030Over $187,200Over $187,200

OHIO

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $54,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 710

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cleveland$55,700Over $187,200Over $187,200
Columbus$59,120Over $187,200Over $187,200
Cincinnati$53,100$170,420Over $187,200
Dayton$50,780Over $187,200Over $187,200

OKLAHOMA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $48,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 240

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Oklahoma City$46,130Over $187,200Over $187,200
Tulsa$48,410Over $187,200Over $187,200

OREGON

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $56,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 280

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$55,270Over $187,200Over $187,200
Salem$125,120Over $187,200Over $187,200

PENNSYLVANIA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $55,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 610

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Philadelphia$53,700$165,090Over $187,200
Pittsburgh$54,250Over $187,200Over $187,200
Harrisburg$56,210$175,570Over $187,200
Allentown$81,180Over $187,200Over $187,200

RHODE ISLAND

Median Salary: 
$168,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $54,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 3%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Providence$55,280$170,620Over $187,200

SOUTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $57,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Greenville$53,320$63,470Over $187,200
Columbia$69,390Over $187,200Over $187,200
Charleston$59,970Over $187,200Over $187,200

SOUTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $175,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 4%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Sioux Falls$172,530Over $187,200Over $187,200
Rapid City$184,970Over $187,200Over $187,200

TENNESSEE

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $130,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 24%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 340

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Nashville$124,530Over $187,200Over $187,200
Memphis$118,010Over $187,200Over $187,200
Knoxville$133,270Over $187,200Over $187,200
Chattanooga$113,250Over $187,200Over $187,200

TEXAS

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $56,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 30%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,210

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Dallas - Ft. Worth$54,600Over $187,200Over $187,200
Houston$60,090$176,240Over $187,200
San Antonio$48,060$185,970Over $187,200
Austin$172,750Over $187,200Over $187,200

UTAH

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $78,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Ogden$54,650Over $187,200Over $187,200

VERMONT

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $62,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Burlington$56,160$157,280Over $187,200

VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $58,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 360

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Virginia Beach$56,320Over $187,200Over $187,200
Richmond$144,930Over $187,200Over $187,200

WASHINGTON

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $120,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 240

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Seattle$108,630Over $187,200Over $187,200
Spokane$141,830Over $187,200Over $187,200

WEST VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $65,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Huntington$118,980Over $187,200Over $187,200
Charleston$54,170Over $187,200Over $187,200

WISCONSIN

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $59,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 6%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 200

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Milwaukee$149,240Over $187,200Over $187,200
Madison$53,940Over $187,200Over $187,200

WYOMING

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $166,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cheyenne$168,640Over $187,200Over $187,200
CasperOver $187,200Over $187,200Over $187,200

The Bureau of Labor Statistics currently states that the median annual salary for hospitalists is over $187,200. In efforts to increase their compensation, hospitalists can take on additional administrative and leadership duties.

Many factors can impact a hospitalist’s earnings, including employer type, experience level, education, and patient population. A 2014 biannual survey by the Society of Hospital Medicine found that the median annual salary of a hospitalist is:

  • $252,996 for adult hospitalists in non-academic (non-teaching) settings (up 8.2 percent since 2012)
  • $195,832 for pediatric hospitalists in non-academic settings (up 9.5 percent since 2012)
  • $187,600 for hospitalists in academic (teaching) settings (up 6.1 percent since 2012)

Salaries also varied by geographic area, with hospitalists in the Midwest earning the most and hospitalists in the larger metropolitan areas earning less. Hospitalists who are partners in physician-owned groups earned significantly more than those employed by hospitals or corporations.

Employment opportunities for physicians in general, and hospitalists in particular, should be excellent for the foreseeable future. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of physicians and surgeons is expected to grow by 14 percent between 2014 and 2024, which is a lot faster than the average for all occupations. There are several reasons for this trend. The health care industry is expanding in order to care for America’s aging population. In addition, federal health care reform laws have expanded insurance coverage to millions of people, increasing the demand for physician services.

Beyond this, changes in physician practice have also increased the need for hospitalists. In the past, family doctors traveled to hospitals to care for their patients. However, this practice has been curtailed by the growing shortage of primary care providers. At the same time, today’s hospital patients are more likely to suffer from multiple chronic conditions that require complex management. In response, more and more hospitals are hiring dedicated hospitalists to care for their complex inpatients.

Hospitalists can improve their job prospects by obtaining board certification and demonstrating leadership ability within their hospitals. Job openings are usually most plentiful in rural and lower-income areas.

The Society of Hospital Medicine maintains an online career center especially for hospitalists, including job listings and career advice articles.

Compare Salaries by City

New York City NY Median Pay

$161480 Per Year

$77.63 Per Hour

Chicago IL Median Pay

$177170 Per Year

$85.17 Per Hour

Steps to Become a Hospitalist

1

Start preparing in high school, if possible.

High school students can best prepare for a career in medicine by focusing on courses in mathematics and the sciences. Advanced coursework through AP, IB, or post-secondary option programs is particularly desirable. Students should seek out work or volunteer experience in the medical field by working in a lab, shadowing a doctor, or volunteering as applicable. The Association of American Medical Colleges website lists summer science enrichment programs for high school students.

2

Complete an undergraduate degree.

Given you don’t select a medical specialty until you’re in medical school, the pathway to practice hospital medicine begins in the same fashion as it does for any medical specialty. Most aspiring physicians complete a bachelor’s degree before medical school (though a few schools offer combined BA/BS + MD programs). No specific major is required in order to be accepted to medical school, but college students should maintain a high GPA and must complete prerequisite courses in biology, physics, and general and organic chemistry.

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During junior year, undergraduates must also take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), which is required for admission to almost all medical schools. After that, students must begin applying for medical school.

Lastly, it’s important to continue gaining medicine-related work and volunteer experience during college, as with high school.

3

Complete medical school.

Medical school typically lasts four years and leads to an MD (Medical Doctor) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) degree. The first two years of medical school are dedicated to classroom-based instruction in anatomy, physiology, pharmacology (medication science), pathology, biochemistry, human behavior, medical ethics, and health law. During the final two years, students rotate through various hospital departments as they practice their new clinical skills under supervision. Students also must pass the first two parts of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). DO students take a separate exam, the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam (COMLEX).

4

Complete a residency (often internal medicine, family medicine or pediatrics).

After medical school, graduates complete three to eight years of additional training in their specialty of interest. This period is called residency. Although no specific type of residency is required to practice hospital medicine, many hospitalists will typically have completed a residency in internal medicine, family medicine, or pediatrics. A growing number of internal medicine residencies have even begun to offer dedicated hospital medicine tracks. In the end, students must pass the final portion of the USMLE or COMLEX.

5

Complete a fellowship (optional).

In addition to residency, many hospitalists also complete a one- or two-year fellowship in a related sub-specialty (for example, general internal medicine, geriatrics, etc). The Society of Hospital Medicine retains a list of hospital-medicine-focused fellowships. Most fellowships have both clinical and research components.

6

Become state-licensed.

Like all physicians, hospitalists must be licensed in the state where they practice. Many states have additional licensing requirements, but these vary from state to state. To learn more, contact your state medical board.

7

Become board certified (optional but recommended).

Board certification of physicians is voluntary and signifies a high level of proficiency in a certain specialty. Board certified doctors are regularly evaluated to ensure they’re keeping up with the latest advances in their field. At present, neither the American Board of Medical Specialties nor the American Osteopathic Association offers board certification in hospital medicine. However, physicians who want to increase their job prospects often pursue certification in a related specialty such as internal or family medicine.

8

Consider opportunities for advancement or career evolution.

As hospitalists gain experience, they often take on administrative roles such as safety officer, directors of quality, or chief medical officers. Some will ultimately choose to leave clinical practice to become hospital executives and administrators.

Teaching is another option for hospitalists. Some supervise residents and fellows in the clinical setting. Others seek professorships and research positions at medical schools.

Exploring Degree Paths

Hospitalist physicians come from many different specialties. Most are trained in internal medicine, family medicine, or pediatrics. However, all begin their training by earning both bachelor’s and medical degrees, and then they must complete a residency. All told, this requires around 11 years. Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps.

BACHELOR'S DEGREE

4 years

The road to becoming a hospitalist starts with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. The degree itself can be in any subject. You’ll also want to take a healthy load of science classes, both to fulfill your medical school prerequisites and gain the knowledge you’ll need for the Medical School Admissions Test (MCAT).

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Every medical school sets its own prerequisites, but almost all require two semesters each of:

  • Biology with lab
  • General chemistry with lab
  • Organic chemistry with lab
  • Physics with lab

In addition, the MCAT assesses knowledge of biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, psychology, sociology, and advanced biology. Coursework in these areas may help you prepare for the test.

Courses commonly recommended for pre-med students include:

Organic chemistry

Study the structure and reactivity of carbon-containing molecules.

Genetics

Examine the structure and function of genes, which contain the structural “blueprints” of all living things.

Principles of sociology

Apply scientific methods to the study of human populations.

Biochemistry

Introduction to chemical reactions within living organisms with emphasis on metabolism, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids.

Medical school admissions are competitive, so it’s important to study hard in college and get good grades. This is especially true in your math, biology, chemistry, and physics classes, because admissions committees often weigh grades in these subjects separately from your other coursework.

That being said, getting into medical school isn’t just about academics. You’ll also need to take the MCAT, gather excellent recommendation letters, and gain real-life healthcare experience as an employee or volunteer. Many schools have a pre-medicine program that helps to prepare students for careers in medicine.

MEDICAL DEGREE

4 years

Medical school teaches you the knowledge and skills you’ll need for the general practice of medicine. It’s also a time to experience a variety of specialties and interest areas. In the final year, you’ll have some time to explore your interest through electives.

Traditionally, medical school was divided into two halves: The first two years were dedicated to didactic (classroom) learning consisting of lectures and labs. During the final two years, students focused on hands-on learning as they rotated through different areas of the hospital.

It’s worth noting that many schools have moved away from this structure. Some now integrate the didactic and clinical activities to provide a more realistic experience. Others have altered the curriculum to allow more time for research or exploration.

The didactic portion of the medical school curriculum typically covers:

Clinical foundations

Practice taking a history, conducting a physical exam, recording your findings, and making diagnoses.

Scientific foundations

Deepen your knowledge of core scientific principles in genetics, pharmacology, microbiology, histology, biochemistry, and molecular biology.

Human anatomy

Learn about the three-dimensional structure of the body through dissection, lecture, and small group activities.

Body systems

Apply principles of physiology, anatomy, and pathology to a variety of organ groups, including the neurological, cardiac, and gastrointestinal systems.

Clinical rotations, or clerkships, allow students to practice examining patients, formulating diagnoses, and planning treatments under supervision. Traditionally, clerkships have been broken down by specialty with students rotating through areas like emergency medicine, family medicine, obstetrics, surgery, and psychiatry.

Increasingly, medical schools are also offering longitudinal clerkships in which students work with the same supervising physician and patient group throughout their med school years. This gives them a feeling for what it’s like to run a practice, plus a chance to observe the many complex issues affecting healthcare.

RESIDENCY

about 3 years

Residency is the phase of training in which physicians develop the knowledge and skills they need to practice a medical specialty. For hospitalists, this usually means completing a three-year residency in internal medicine, family medicine, or pediatrics.

The care of hospitalized patients requires a specific skill set. Aspiring hospitalists should therefore look for a residency program that provides plenty of opportunities to train within hospital settings. Some residencies now offer a specific hospitalist track.

Like the later years of medical school, residency is built around rotations that allow new physicians to practice caring for patients under supervision. The resident’s level of independence and responsibility increase across the program. Rotations may be built around a clinical specialty (neurology), a practice setting (outpatient clinic), or an activity (research).

Some rotations that are particularly useful for future hospitalists include:

Safety and quality

Participate in a team-based project designed to improve outcomes for hospital patients.

Inpatient neurology

Practice caring for hospitalized patients who are being treated for stroke and other neurological conditions.

Consultative medicine

Work with surgeons and other specialists to care for complex patients.

Preceptorship

Receive one-on-one mentoring and coaching from an experienced hospitalist.

In addition, residents attend lectures, participate in teaching conferences, and pursue scholarly activities like research and journal club. Senior residents may teach and supervise medical students and junior residents.

Keys to Success as a Hospitalist

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Leadership and organizational skills

Hospitalists must be able to take responsibility for managing all aspects of a patient’s care, in addition to leading quality improvement (QI/QA) initiatives within the organization.

Communication

Hospitalists must be able to convey complex information to patients, families, and other healthcare professionals in a timely and appropriate manner.

Problem-solving skills

Hospitalized patients have very complex medical needs. Therefore, hospitalists must be able to analyze all information available to make the most appropriate treatment decisions.

Empathy

Hospitalists must be able to work well with people who are upset and in physical pain.

Attention to detail

Given the complexity of caring for critically ill patients, even small mistakes can have big consequences. Hospitalists must be alert for small changes in the patient’s condition that could signal impending trouble. They must also be meticulous when managing patients’ medications.

Awareness of surroundings

Like all health care professionals, hospitalists must take precautions to prevent exposure to contagious diseases and hazardous chemicals.

Physical stamina

Hospitalists spend long periods standing and walking, which requires good health and stamina.

Additional Credentials

Board certification of hospitalists is voluntary but highly desired by employers, hospitals, and patients.

To become credentialed in a specialty, physicians must complete a residency, obtain unrestricted licensure, and pass a series of exams. Most specialties now place a time limit on board eligibility (usually within 5–8 years of residency).

Three organizations currently offer board certification to American physicians:

Not all states recognize all certifying organizations. It’s therefore a good idea to check with your employer or state medical board before pursuing certification.

There are multiple pathways to board certification for hospitalists:

  • Board certification in your primary specialty (for example, family medicine or pediatrics)
  • Board certification in internal medicine with an emphasis in hospital medicine (ABMS and AOA)
  • Board certification in hospital medicine (ABPS)

Beginning in 2017, ABMS will offer board certification in the subspecialty of pediatric hospital medicine. Candidates must complete an additional 2-year training period called a fellowship and pass additional exams.

Andrew T. Colucci, MD

Andrew T. Colucci, MD is a senior radiology resident at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA, and a Clinical Instructor at Harvard Medical School. He is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society, and a graduate from Boston University School of Medicine and Boston College. His professional interests are quite varied and include clinical research, medical education, healthcare economics, and health policy.

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