Remaining Idealistic During growth

When AIM was founded over nine years ago, it was created with one purpose. Namely, to provide care of the hospitalized patient that was better, faster, safer, and more cost effective than before. The approach was and still is completely different than the vast majority of hospitalist programs out there that are profit driven. Keeping volumes down to improve quality by allowing staff the time they need to excel is still a novel approach. Taking care of our staff so they have a good work-life balance gives them the energy & motivation to strive for excellence. These concepts are so simple and so successful that you would think they would be widely adopted. Yet, here we are, one of those rare programs that actually cares about every employee and remains solely focused on quality.
A physician that interviewed recently described our approach, along with our excellent benefits package, as maybe ‘too good to be true’. She & her family are lovely people and hopefully will join AIM eventually, but I think it’s sad that this recruit was actually a little unsure because of our approach being so unusual as to make it almost hard to believe. Based on what’s out there, she has every right to be skeptical since 20-25 daily encounters and frequent burnout & staff turnover seems to be the current state of hospitalist affairs, to the point where it’s become accepted as ‘normal’. Are we really so disenfranchised and settled into these ritualized routines of 20+ encounters and punishing shifts daily that AIM keeping it to 15-18 encounters a day seems unbelievable? When the average hospitalist lasts only about four years in a program before moving on as is the case now, hospitalist medicine has a problem.
In the long run, I hope that everyone moves to the quality focused format that AIM has been so successful with. In the meantime, being surrounded by overworked, unappreciated, & burned out hospitalists at so many other programs sure helps with recruiting. Once an interview candidate visits and speaks with members of our team, we usually end up adding a new provider. That’s good for AIM, but not good for hospitalist medicine as a specialty. I think hospitalist medicine has ceded control of its own growth and identity to large hospitalist management groups focused on profits and expansion over quality. That’s going to come back to haunt our profession down the road. Well, AIM will continue to stand alone in our region as a group that understands that patient care is our focus, not dollars. That will never change.

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