Are you considering a career change to hospital-based medicine?

Given the current physician shortage, new and experienced physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants are in a unique position to explore medical career opportunities that best suit their lifestyle and needs, such as strong leadership, better work-life balance, and a cohesive team.

Now’s the time for clinicians to take a long, hard look at hospital-based medicine opportunities and any career changes that accompany them.

Here are six opportunities to consider:

1. Practice Emergency Medicine

Emergency medicine physicians are constantly on the frontline of health care, running to save the day. While the thrill of saving the life of a patient is an incredible feeling, the reasons to pursue a career in emergency medicine also include:

  • Flexibility –Emergency medicine physicians work designated shifts which allows the freedom to plan time for the personal aspects of life that mean the most to you. 
  • Challenge – Each day is filled with a wide array of challenges and a variety of cases in an extremely fast-paced environment. Working in such a dynamic setting requires a strategic combination of knowledge, skill, and compassion. It’s safe to say you will never get bored in the ED. 
  • Collaboration ­–Excellent patient care requires skillful collaboration and coordination of the entire Emergency Department staff. Having another partner you can trust on your team can ease the stress of treating patients in a life-or-death situation. 
  • Lifestyle –A crucial aspect of the decision-making process for any provider, the lifestyle of an emergency medicine career allows for variety. There are few other specialties that provide scheduled shifts, flexibility, no call, and the added perk of not having to wear a tie every day.  

More than that, the opportunity to make a vital difference in the lives of the diverse patient population that crosses the hospital’s threshold, often in dire need of help, is visceral.

2. Become a Hospitalist

If practicing emergency medicine holds no appeal, perhaps hospital medicine might. There are as many good reasons to become a hospitalist as there are an ER doctor.

One of the most outstanding is that it is a relatively new field — only about 20-years old — but growing fast. The latest figures estimate more than 34,000 hospitalists work in 70 percent of U.S. hospitals.

Today, hospitalists are indispensable members of the healthcare community and play an increasingly important role in the era of healthcare reform.

An article in the NEJM Career Center website cited John Combes, MD, Senior Vice President of the American Hospital Association, who said, "Given the health reform environment and the way things are changing in care delivery, we are looking to hospitalists to help us improve efficiency and move toward value-based care."

Other reasons to consider a hospital medicine career include the fact that job opportunities abound. The profession is projected to have a growth rate of more than 26 percent by 2030.

Additional advantages include scheduling flexibility — hospitalists often have a variety of schedules to choose from — and job satisfaction: hospitalists report some of the highest in medicine.

3. Move to a Rural Setting

If going where the need is greatest seems meaningful, consider moving to a rural setting. Nowhere is the current doctor shortage more pronounced than in rural areas.

While not without its challenges, the benefits associated with working in non-urban settings add up and include things like a better standard of living (the cost of living is often much lower than cities), student loan forgiveness of repayment, greater practice autonomy, and being viewed as a valued member of the community. 

If this is a consideration, SCP has a number of opportunities that are well worth checking out.

4. Transition from Family Medicine

Office-based physicians and Family Nurse Practitioners seeking positions in hospitals have several good reasons to do so: Demand is high, compensation is on the rise, and where hospital medicine is concerned, a more manageable schedule and better quality of life than a solo practice can provide.

Before jumping into hospital practice headlong, however, SCP Executive Vice President & Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rachel George, recommends that family physicians work holidays, weekends, and/or nights at the hospital they are considering to determine if this is a worthwhile choice.

For those who decide to take the leap, check out this four-part checklist for winding down the office, which includes a detailed timeline to make the transition smoother.

5. Start an NP/PA Career

The physician shortage has opened the door to growth in the number of nurse practitioners and physician assistants working in hospitals, and their responsibilities are increasing beyond that of merely providing physician support.

In many states, NPs and PAs have prescribing rights and enjoy greater autonomy than in the past. Not only that but, typically, NP/PA candidates and practitioners are nurses, which means they bring a unique perspective and personal touch to patient care.

NP and PA providers have long been a foundational part of most clinical teams here at SCP and currently make up about 25 percent of the workforce. We consider them to be a vital part of the continuum of care.

6. Join SCP

We don't want to sound too self-serving but would be remiss if we didn't mention the many excellent reasons you should consider joining SCP this year.

Here are just a few:

We emphasize a healthy work-life balance, enjoy strong community support (and give back to our local communities in tangible ways), provide ongoing career growth and leadership opportunities, promote a culture of professionalism and expertise, and place high value on our providers and the work they do with patients. Last but certainly not least, we also offer very competitive salaries and benefits.

If you’re looking to join a team of like-minded professionals dedicated to improving the lives of patients and the healthcare industry, consider a full-time or part-time hospital-based medicine career with SCP.


This post is the first of a four-part series that addresses the outlook and growing need of physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants in hospital-based medicine. 

The second post in this series will outline the role of physician assistants in hospital-based medicine; filling the gap in care, and the projections and outlook for the profession as the healthcare industry grows.