Section Chief's Welcome
Hospital medicine is a new and rapidly growing field within internal medicine whose physicians, “hospitalists”, focus their practice on the care of hospitalized patients. The University of Chicago’s Program in Hospital Medicine was founded in 1997, making it one of the first in the country. In 2008 we became one of the first Sections of Hospital Medicine in the nation.
Over this period, our clinical roles have grown from a focus solely on the care of patients on traditional academic general medicine teaching services to also include care of hospitalized patients in partnership with nurse practitioners and subspecialty patients who we co-manage with specialists. Our clinical programs also provide night-time in-house attending physician coverage at the University of Chicago Hospitals, and run a teaching service that cares for University of Chicago medicine patients at Mercy Hospital, which is one of the first clinical programs of the medical center’s Urban Health Initiative. Our hospitalists also play important leadership roles in specialized programs to serve the needs of patients requiring anticoagulant therapy and patients with sickle cell disease.
Although clinical needs have been the driving force behind the growth of hospital medicine nationally, our program has always had a major academic focus on research, quality improvement, and teaching. Since 1997, we have systematically collected data on over 60,000 patients we have cared for in the hospital, attempting to understand the factors that influence the care they receive and approaches to improve their outcomes. This work has received funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Reynolds Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. One of the major lessons of our research is that hospitalists can help control the cost of hospital care and improve its outcomes, but only as hospitalists become experienced. In a young profession in which physicians often work nights and weekends in intense clinical work, many hospitals have had high rates of turnover among their hospitalists. At the University of Chicago, we have developed a set of programs to provide physicians with the skills and time to develop sustainable academic careers as productive contributors as researchers and leaders in clinical care, quality improvement, and medical education. We are also actively engaged in the training of the next generation of physicians and physician researchers, leading programs to training junior faculty and fellows, residents, medical students, college students, and even local high school students to prepare themselves to be leaders in advancing medical practice.