What Kind of Education Does a Hospitalist Need?

The education required for a hospitalist is a four-year bachelor degree and four-year medical degree. Then, the hospitalist must complete a residency, in areas like pediatrics or family medicine, and obtain a state license to practice medicine. Some hospitalists choose to become board-certified or obtain certification through independent accrediting agencies.

Undergraduate Degree

The academic path to becoming a hospitalist begins in high school when pre-med students can focus math and science courses. Advanced coursework through AP or honors programs are always recommended. During high school, future hospitalists should pursue work in the medical field by spending time in a local hospital, shadowing a doctor or working through a community health program. The Association of American Medical Colleges provides a searchable list of summer enrichment programs for high school students here.

Most medical professionals complete a bachelor’s degree, but medical schools do not require specific majors. Instead, college students are expected to maintain a high GPA and take as many prerequisite courses in topics like biology, chemistry and the health science. Popular majors include math, psychology and medicine. During this time, pre-med students must take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) in order to gain admission to medical schools. It’s important to continue accumulating medical related work experience during college.

Medical Degree

Medical school usually lasts four years and leads to either a Medical Doctor (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. The first two years of med school are similar to the final years of undergraduate school. There is classroom-based instruction in anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, biochemistry, psychology and medical ethics and regulations. Besides the classroom, students spend time in clinical labs and complete hands-on projects. These basic classes prepare students for their first licensing exams, which is called the USMLE. This must be passed in order to move on to the final two years of medical school.

Once the licensing exam is passed, students rotate through various hospital departments in order to apply new clinical skills under watchful supervision. While they take regular classes, students will spend the third year rotating through the fundamental departments. During the fourth year, students are empowered to choose rotations in their desired specialty areas. This helps them begin the process of applying to residency programs early in the fourth year. Because a big part of the residency application is the essay, med students should take copious notes during rotations.

In closing, med student must take the second USMLE that evaluates medical knowledge, diagnostic skills and clinical competencies. The third USMLE may be taken during residency, but some states allow students to take it later. Once this final exam is complete, the student will be officially be licensed as a practicing physician. From this point on, doctors who want to become hospitalists will usually complete a one to two year fellowship in their desired sub-specialty, such as geriatrics and internal medicine. The education required for a hospitalist ensures that these medical professionals are fully prepared to deal with patients with acute and chronic medical problems.

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