What is a Hospitalist?

What Is a Hospitalist?


"Practicing only inside hospitals, this type of physician is growing in numbers.

If you or a loved one has spent time in the hospital recently, you’ve likely encountered a doctor called a hospitalist. And there’s a good chance you may not have fully understood who these doctors are or what they do. 

A hospitalist is a physician who cares for inpatients, meaning they only work inside a hospital. These doctors have often completed residency training in general internal medicine, pediatrics, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, or oncology. They may also be board-certified in hospital medicine. Hospitalists provide timely attention to all your needs, including diagnosis, treatment, and coordination of care across the many specialists you might see during your stay.

Because they only work in this setting, hospitalists know how to navigate the hospital staff and protocols, and they are experts in treating the most common conditions that bring people to the hospital. You can think of a hospitalist as an in-house, temporary primary care physician focused on your care while you are hospitalized. Though hospitalists sometimes get to know their patients well, they do not continue to care for them after discharge.

And just as the rest of medicine becomes increasingly specialized, the same applies to hospital medicine. Now, more medical subspecialists, including gastroenterologists, are choosing to work primarily in hospitals.

We talked with several Yale Medicine hospitalists to better understand what they do and how this specialty came to be. Below are answers to commonly asked questions."

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