What it’s like to be a pediatric hospitalist

First of all you might be wondering what a pediatric hospitalist does. Prior to about 10 years ago, when a child became ill enough to require hospital admission, their pediatrician would place them in a hospital and then manage their inpatient care accordingly. However, both the pressures of increasingly complex inpatient medicine as well as financial changes in how pedestrians are reimbursed have opened up an emerging specialty of general pediatricians who only take care of patients in the hospital. That’s me. Thus, when a pediatrician or emergency room doctor has a sick patient, they call me to accept this patient to be managed under my care in the hospital.

Now what kind of life does that mean for me? A great one. I have the wonderful job of helping take care of very sick babies and children and through my team of medical students, residents and consultants hopefully making them better again. At Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, we have a very diverse group of patients which means that I get to take care of extremely complex cases as well has patients from all walks of life (ethnicity, socioeconomic status, culture or education). What makes my job so amazing is that no matter where the patient comes from or what problems they have had in the past, when they reach me; we do everything we can to get them back to where they need to be.

My job really consists of three parts. The first is daytime service where my team and I round each morning on our group of patients and make decisions about what course of action we are going to take to improve their care. The second is night time call, where I serve to supervise the overnight issues of the hospital’s patients and deal with acute issues that invariably arise. The third part is education of the medical students and residents which is actually a lot of fun, helping people move along their chosen career. I work between 40 to 60 hours a week depending on what is happening — although that doesn’t account for most of the extra things that we do such as administration and education. When you find a job you like, you end up spending a lot of time on it even after work. It’s fun after all!

Published on: November 10, 2008
About the Author
Photo of Dan Imler MD

Dan Imler, MD is a pediatric hospitalist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University. Not only does he enjoy taking care of patients, but is actively involved in resident education, international health and medical informatics.

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