Do Hospitalists Earn too Much Money?

March 10, 2009

That’s the question Erik DeLue, MD, MBA, medical director of the hospitalist program at Virtua Memorial Hospital in Mt. Holly, NJ addresses in the February 2009 edition of Today’s Hospitalist.

That’s the question Erik DeLue, MD, MBA, medical director of the hospitalist program at Virtua Memorial Hospital in Mt. Holly, NJ addresses in the February 2009 edition of Today’s Hospitalist. Like every industry, the medical industry is affected by the current economical crisis in the United States. DeLue mentions that it all begins with patients who are affected by the economic downturn, which causes them to skimp on their healthcare.

DeLue goes on to define the “two evolving theories” on what will happen to hospitalists’ compensation. The first involves “revenue-side prognosticators” (ie, hospitalist management groups) who believe that “financially struggling hospitals will no longer be able to afford ‘expensive’ hospitalists who can’t pay their own way to play.”

The second side—the “value-side prophets”—are led by a subset of hospitalists who argue that a hospital cannot run without a hospitalist (especially those hospitals that have decided to go the hospitalist route), and that “the days of a hospital being a free market are numbered; no one, subspecialists included, is going to show up for free anymore.”

In the end, DeLue believes that hospitalists will not be seeing a pay cut anytime soon, because “hospitals will make painful cuts elsewhere before they risk imploding a hospitalist team, so long as recruitment remains so difficult.”

In these hard economic times, it’s easy to try to make decisions based on compensation; however, DeLue thankfully offers up this refreshing statement in his article:

“For a struggling family, food and shelter necessarily take precedence over concerns for personal health, despite the fact that the three are almost always intertwined. While the following is a call for hospitalists to rejoice in our specialty’s growing importance (read: job and salary security), it is also a reminder that we must not lose sight of the fact that it is our responsibility to do more for those who have less.”

To read DeLue’s article, click here. Also, be sure to check out what KevinMD.com has to say about the economy’s effect on hospitalists here.