A pediatric hospitalist is a hospital-based pediatrician that oversees all medical care during a child’s hospital stay, rather than a primary care physician. Pediatric hospitalist services began to flourish in the U.S. about ten years ago and these types of services are growing rapidly across the country, especially in larger hospitals. Here’s what you need to know. 

  1. A pediatric hospitalist is a medical doctor that focuses only on hospital-based care. The hospitalist works directly with the primary care provider to coordinate care throughout a child’s hospital stay. While primary care physicians provide excellent care to hospitalized patients, as medicine has evolved, so has the value of having a physician onsite. 
  2. The hospitalist is at the bedside 24-hours a day. Traditionally, a child’s primary care physician would split their time traveling back and forth between their clinic and the hospital. This can be challenging and time consuming for the physician and it can present difficulties in coordinating care with nursing staff. But with a pediatric hospitalist, the physician only has responsibilities inside the hospital, so even though the patient care is short-term, the physician is readily available at the bedside 24 hours a day. If an emergency or a change in a child’s condition occurs, the hospitalist can react quickly and keep the family informed. 
  3. The care is consistent and follows streamlined processes. Justin Beverly, MD, medical director of the McKay-Dee Pediatric Hospitalist program, which began last November says, “A small group of hospital-based pediatric physicians are able to implement processes that use evidence-based treatment plans with a focus on continuously improving patient safety, quality, and reducing costs.” 
  4. Pediatric hospitalists help meet community needs. Dr. Beverly explains that like any hospital service, a pediatric hospitalist program is based in response to increasing patient volumes, increasing complexity of illness, and the constant time pressures on clinic-based physicians. 
  5. Hospitalist programs offer great teaching opportunities. A built-in advantage of a pediatric hospitalist program is the round the clock education for medical students and residents. A core group of in-house teaching physicians can provide many more opportunities for structured teaching and mentoring for physicians in training. 

Sumaira Arain, MD, a McKay-Dee pediatric hospitalist, visits with Nicole and her daughter Harper.