According to the Society of Hospital Medicine, hospitalists are physicians whose role is the general medical care of hospitalized patients. Although their speciality is inpatient care, hospitalists can also teach, research and manage within the hospital setting. Typically hospitalists are board-certified, internal medicine physicians who have completed the same training as other internists but have chosen to focus on inpatient care.
This focus on care of hospitalized patients allows hospitalists to provide superior service and more thoroughly cover a patient's needs during a hospital stay. Additionally, since hospitalists spend the majority of their work days in the hospital, they can provide more immediate care to patients than those who primarily work in other settings.
Hospitalists tend to be skilled at coordinating with specialists and other staff in hospitals. As such they can provide more expedient and cost-effective care to patients. Furthermore, they are often more familiar with the risks associated with hospitalized care and are better equipped to ensure patient safety in that setting than a primary care physician.
While doctors have been working in hospitals for many years, the trend of physicians becoming hospitalists has been growing significantly since 1994. This movement has arisen in response to the significant benefits that patients can gain from inpatient care specialists.