With the demand for hospitalists high and busy practices stretched to the breaking point, midlevel practitioners may seem like an easy solution to recruitment woes. But do some careful planning before you place that “Help Wanted” ad, experts say. For example, what's the ideal ratio of midlevels to hospitalists? Will your midlevels function more or less independently, or will they be part of a team? How can you ensure that the midlevels you hire will be using their training effectively? In our cover story on page 8, Senior Writer Jessica Berthold looks at these and other issues to consider before adding midlevels to your practice.
When job hunting, it's natural to focus on the obvious things, like salary and vacation time. Other factors, though, can turn out to be even more important. If you leave your group after a year or two, for example, you should know what happens to your malpractice coverage, and whether you're prohibited from getting a new job at the hospital across town because of a restrictive covenant. On page 12, Susan FitzGerald reviews the fine print of employment contracts and what to look for before you sign.
Establishing a good rapport with patients is tricky under the best of circumstances, but it can be especially so for hospitalists. Without a preexisting relationship, it can be difficult to gain patients' trust, especially when the stress of acute illness and the fragmented nature of shiftwork get in the way. But hospitalists who make an effort to reach out can find ways to connect with their patients and improve both care and satisfaction—-patients' and providers'—-in the process, experts say. Turn to our story on page 14 to find out how.
Finally, this issue features coverage from International Stroke Conference 2009, held in February in San Diego. Turn to page 18 for an overview of the conference's most compelling research, as well as a more in-depth look at how telemedicine and telephone consultation stack up when treating stroke.
If there are other clinical topics you'd like to see us cover, or if you have comments on this or previous issues, let us know.
Editor, ACP Hospitalist