Hospitalist brings leadership to locum group

Robert W. Harrington Jr. offers insight into the workforce shortage.


Robert W. Harrington Jr., MD

Occupation: Hospitalist and chief medical officer, Locum Leaders, LLC.

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Age: 42.

Current residence: Alpharetta, Ga.

Hometown: Philadelphia.

Family: Wife, Christine, a registered nurse, and two sons, Justin, age 14, and Sean, age 11.

Medical school: Temple University School of Medicine.

Residency: Christiana Care Health System (formerly Medical Center of Delaware).

Specialty: Family medicine/hospitalist.

Something I wish I'd learned in medical school: The business aspects of medicine—how to run a practice, manage people and some of the economic aspects of a successful medical group.

First job: Air Force physician.

I became a hospitalist because: I enjoy the acute care, and I like being able to devote the amount of time a patient needs on a daily basis to them without being tied to a rigid office schedule.

Most rewarding aspect of your job: I enjoy the exposure to different hospitalist programs and physicians.

Most meaningful professional accomplishment: Being part of the inaugural class of Fellows in Hospital Medicine this past spring at the Society of Hospital Medicine meeting was very meaningful to me.

Future goals: I am a career hospitalist and the largest threat I see to hospital medicine right now is the workforce shortage. If I can be at least a small part of the solution to that problem, I would consider that a great feat. I do think locum tenens physicians will play a role in bridging that gap.

Hardest medical lesson learned: One of my mentors in residency once told me, “If you listen to the patient, they will tell you what is wrong with them.” I think we have gotten jaded somewhat by all of the technology that surrounds us in hospitals—CT, MRI, echo, etc.—and it has resulted in a decreased reliance on the good old history and physical.

Career advice for hospitalists coming out of residency: Be flexible. Understand that you are entering a dynamic specialty that today is much different than it was yesterday and tomorrow will be much different than it is today. Also, be a team player. Delivery of health care is a team sport and excellent medical care is the result of each team member pulling his or her own weight.

Personal heroes: There are several. First, my wife because she has shown me how to be a better husband and father. Also, my parents, especially now that I know how hard it is to raise kids, and my grandfather, who in my opinion was the ultimate family man.

Pet peeves: I have a big problem with people violating my personal space. I am a very social person, but I don't like the close-talker type.

Favorite ways to spend free time: I enjoy golf, especially with my boys, or spending time on the beach with my family.

Favorite author or poet: Tom Clancy, John Grisham on the lighter side, or for something more serious, I'm reading “Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time” by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

Most meaningful non-medical accomplishment: Obtaining my private pilot's license and instrument rating.

Item I can't live without: As sad as this sounds, I'd have to say my BlackBerry. It allows me to stay in touch with home, work, friends and family. Without it I would be lost.

If I weren't a physician, I would be: A professional pilot.