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Hospitalist Physician Overview

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Working As a Hospitalist Physician

  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Stressful

  • $221,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Hospitalist Physician Do

Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses. Physicians examine patients; take medical histories; prescribe medications; and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests. They often counsel patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive healthcare. Surgeons operate on patients to treat injuries, such as broken bones; diseases, such as cancerous tumors; and deformities, such as cleft palates.

There are two types of physicians, with corresponding degrees: M.D. (Medical Doctor) and D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine). Both use the same methods of treatment, including drugs and surgery, but D.O.s place additional emphasis on the body's musculoskeletal system, preventive medicine, and holistic (whole-person) patient care. D.O.s are most likely to be primary care physicians, although they can be found in all specialties.


Physicians and surgeons typically do the following:

  • Take a patient’s medical history
  • Update charts and patient information to show current findings and treatments
  • Order tests for nurses or other healthcare staff to perform
  • Review test results to identify any abnormal findings
  • Recommend and design a plan of treatment
  • Address concerns or answer questions that patients have about their health and well-being
  • Help patients take care of their health by discussing topics such as proper nutrition and hygiene

Physicians and surgeons work in one or more specialties. The following are examples of types of physicians and surgeons:

Anesthesiologists focus on the care of surgical patients and on pain relief. They administer drugs (anesthetics) that reduce or eliminate the sensation of pain during an operation or another medical procedure. During surgery, they are responsible for adjusting the amount of anesthetic as needed and monitoring the patient's heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, and breathing. They also work outside of the operating room, providing pain relief in the intensive care unit, during labor and delivery of babies, and for patients who suffer from chronic pain. Anesthesiologists work with other physicians and surgeons to decide on treatments and procedures before, during, and after surgery. 

Family and general physicians assess and treat a range of conditions that occur in everyday life. These conditions include anything from sinus and respiratory infections to broken bones. Family and general physicians typically have regular, long-term patients.

General internists diagnose and provide nonsurgical treatment for a range of problems that affect internal organ systems such as the stomach, kidneys, liver, and digestive tract. Internists use a variety of diagnostic techniques to treat patients through medication or hospitalization. They work mostly with adult patients.

General pediatricians provide care for infants, children, teenagers, and young adults. They specialize in diagnosing and treating problems specific to younger people. Most pediatricians treat common illnesses, minor injuries, and infectious diseases, and administer vaccinations. Some pediatricians specialize in pediatric surgery or serious medical conditions that commonly affect younger patients, such as autoimmune disorders or chronic ailments.

Obstetricians and gynecologists (OB/GYNs) provide care related to pregnancy, childbirth, and the female reproductive system. They treat and counsel women throughout their pregnancy and deliver babies. They also diagnose and treat health issues specific to women, such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, hormonal disorders, and symptoms related to menopause.

Psychiatrists are primary mental health physicians. They diagnose and treat mental illnesses through a combination of personal counseling (psychotherapy), psychoanalysis, hospitalization, and medication. Psychotherapy involves regular discussions with patients about their problems. The psychiatrist helps them find solutions through changes in their behavioral patterns, explorations of their past experiences, or group and family therapy sessions. Psychoanalysis involves long-term psychotherapy and counseling for patients. Psychiatrists may prescribe medications to correct chemical imbalances that cause some mental illnesses.

Surgeons treat injuries, diseases, and deformities through operations. Using a variety of instruments, a surgeon corrects physical deformities, repairs bone and tissue after injuries, or performs preventive or elective surgeries on patients. Although a large number perform general surgery, many surgeons choose to specialize in a specific area. Specialties include orthopedic surgery (the treatment of the musculoskeletal system), neurological surgery (treatment of the brain and nervous system), cardiovascular surgery, and plastic or reconstructive surgery. Like other physicians, surgeons examine patients, perform and interpret diagnostic tests, and counsel patients on preventive healthcare. Some specialist physicians also perform surgery.

Physicians and surgeons may work in a number of other medical and surgical specialties and subspecialties. The following specialists are some of the most common examples:

  • Allergists (specialists in diagnosing and treating hay fever or other allergies)
  • Cardiologists (heart specialists)
  • Dermatologists (skin specialists)
  • Gastroenterologists (digestive system specialists)
  • Ophthalmologists (eye specialists)
  • Pathologists (specialists who study body tissue to see if it is normal or abnormal)
  • Radiologists (specialists who review and interpret x rays and other images and deliver radiation treatments for cancer and other illnesses)

Physicians work daily with other healthcare staff, such as registered nurses, other physicians, medical assistants, and medical records and health information technicians.

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How To Become A Hospitalist Physician

Physicians and surgeons have demanding education and training requirements. Almost all physicians complete at least 4 years of undergraduate school, 4 years of medical school, and, depending on their specialty, 3 to 7 years in internship and residency programs.


Most applicants to medical school have at least a bachelor's degree, and many have advanced degrees. Although no specific major is required, all students must complete undergraduate work in biology, chemistry, physics, math, and English. Students also take courses in the humanities and social sciences. In addition, some students volunteer at local hospitals or clinics to gain experience in a healthcare setting.

Medical schools are highly competitive. Most applicants must submit transcripts, scores from the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and letters of recommendation. Schools also consider an applicant’s personality, leadership qualities, and participation in extracurricular activities. Most schools require applicants to interview with members of the admissions committee.

A few medical schools offer combined undergraduate and medical school programs that last 6 or 7 years.

Students spend most of the first 2 years of medical school in laboratories and classrooms, taking courses such as anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, psychology, medical ethics, and the laws governing medicine. They also gain practical skills, learning to take medical histories, examine patients, and diagnose illnesses.

During their last 2 years, medical students work with patients under the supervision of experienced physicians in hospitals and clinics. Through rotations in internal medicine, family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, and surgery, they gain experience in diagnosing and treating illnesses in a variety of areas.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Physicians and surgeons need to be excellent communicators. They must be able to communicate effectively with their patients and other healthcare support staff.

Compassion. Physicians and surgeons deal with patients who are sick or injured and may be in extreme pain or distress. Physicians and surgeons must be able to treat patients and their families with compassion and understanding.

Detail oriented. Physicians and surgeons must ensure that patients are receiving appropriate treatment and medications. They must also monitor and record various pieces of information related to patient care.

Dexterity. Physicians and surgeons must be good at working with their hands. They may work with very precise and sometimes sharp tools, and mistakes can have serious consequences.

Leadership skills. Physicians who work in their own practice need to be effective leaders. They must be able to manage a staff of other professionals to run their practice.

Organizational skills. Some physicians own their own practice. Strong organizational skills, including good recordkeeping, are critical in both medical and business settings.

Patience. Physicians and surgeons may work for long periods with patients who need special attention. Persons who fear medical treatment may require more patience.

Physical stamina. Physicians and surgeons should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as lifting or turning disabled patients. Surgeons may spend a great deal of time bending over patients during surgery.

Problem-solving skills. Physicians and surgeons need to evaluate patients’ symptoms and administer the appropriate treatments. They need to do this quickly if a patient’s life is threatened.


After medical school, almost all graduates enter a residency program in their specialty of interest. A residency usually takes place in a hospital and varies in duration, generally lasting from 3 to 7 years, depending on the specialty.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require physicians and surgeons to be licensed; requirements vary by state. To qualify for a license, candidates must graduate from an accredited medical school and complete residency training in their specialty.

All physicians and surgeons also must pass a standardized national licensure exam. M.D.s take the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). D.O.s take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA). For specific state information about licensing, contact your state’s medical board. 

Certification is not required for physicians and surgeons; however, it may increase their employment opportunities. M.D.s and D.O.s seeking board certification in a specialty may spend up to 7 years in residency training; the length of time varies with the specialty. To become board certified, candidates must complete a residency program and pass a specialty certification exam from the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), or the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS).

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Hospitalist Physician Typical Career Paths

Average Length of Employment
Staff Physician 5.8 years
Family Physician 5.4 years
Physician 3.8 years
Hospitalist 2.8 years
Resident Physician 2.7 years
In-House Physician 2.6 years
Physician Liaison 2.6 years
Top Careers Before Hospitalist Physician
Physician 15.0%
Internship 8.0%
Resident 5.4%
MD 3.5%
Internist 3.2%
Top Careers After Hospitalist Physician
Physician 18.0%
Fellow 3.9%

Do you work as a Hospitalist Physician?

Average Yearly Salary
Show Salaries
Min 10%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Northeast Hospital
Highest Paying City
Yakima, WA
Highest Paying State
Avg Experience Level
2.8 years
How much does a Hospitalist Physician make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Hospitalist Physician in the United States is $221,640 per year or $107 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $160,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $306,000.

Real Hospitalist Physician Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Hospitalist Physician Hospitalists of Arizona, Inc. Tucson, AZ Jul 15, 2015 $417,400
Hospitalist Physician (Psychiatrist) Asana Integrated Medical Group Woodland, CA May 01, 2015 $406,965
Hospitalist Physician Apogee Medical Group, Ohio, Inc. Portsmouth, OH Jan 07, 2016 $386,344
Hospitalist Physician Apogee Medical Group, Ohio, Inc. Portsmouth, OH Jan 08, 2016 $360,200
Hospitalist and Intensivist Physician Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center McComb, MS Mar 28, 2016 $350,000
Physician/Hospitalist Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center McComb, MS Feb 19, 2015 $350,000
Hospitalist Physician/Nocturnist Telehealth Service National Hospitalist Services, PC Lafayette, LA Apr 12, 2015 $346,442
Hospitalist Physician National Hospitalist Services, PC Crowley, LA Apr 12, 2015 $346,442
Hospitalist Physician Elite Emergency Russellville, PLLC Russellville, AR Jun 05, 2015 $344,355
Hospitalist Physician Inpatient Consultants of Delaware, Inc. Newark, DE Nov 01, 2015 $344,355
Hospitalist Physician Elite Emergency Russellville, PLLC Russellville, AR Jul 01, 2015 $344,355
Hospitalist Physician Apogee Medical Group, New York, PC Malone, NY Oct 10, 2016 $340,000
Hospitalist Physician Apogee Medical Group, New York, PC Malone, NY Jan 07, 2016 $340,000
Hospitalist Physician Apogee Medical Group, Ohio, Inc. Portsmouth, OH Jul 06, 2015 $245,280
Hospitalist Physician Apogee Medical Group, Ohio, Inc. Portsmouth, OH Aug 01, 2015 $245,280
Hospitalist Physician Integris Health, Inc. Enid, OK Jun 01, 2016 $245,000
Hospitalist Physician Apogee Medical Group, Virginia, PC Danville, VA Mar 15, 2016 $245,000
Hospitalist Physician Siouxland Internal Medicine Specialists Sioux City, IA Jan 26, 2016 $245,000
Hospitalist Physician Siouxland Internal Medicine Specialists, PLLC Sioux City, IA Jan 01, 2015 $245,000
Hospitalist Physician Apogee Medical Group, Virginia, PC Danville, VA Jan 01, 2016 $245,000
Hospitalist Physician S Natarajan Medical Corporation Stockton, CA Jan 15, 2015 $243,073
Hospitalist Physician Independent Physicians Resource, Inc. Statesville, NC Jan 23, 2016 $219,782
Hospitalist Physician Apogee Medical Group, Virginia, PC Danville, VA May 02, 2016 $219,302
Hospitalist Physician Apogee Medical Group, Delaware, Inc. Dover, DE Sep 08, 2015 $219,300
Hospitalist Physician Apogee Medical Group, Delaware, Inc. Milford, DE Jul 06, 2015 $219,300
Hospitalist Physician Apogee Medical Group, Delaware, Inc. Dover, DE Jan 07, 2016 $219,300
Physician-Hospitalist Cogent Healthcare of Arizona, PC Tucson, AZ Sep 01, 2015 $219,135

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Top Skills for A Hospitalist Physician

  1. Internal Medicine
  2. Patient Care
  3. Emergency Room
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Privileged as Assistant Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine to teach Medical students of VTC School of Medicine
  • Hospital-based physician providing inpatient care on behalf of ambulatory-based practitioners.
  • Responded to in-patient, emergency room hematology calls.
  • Delivered primary care/correctional medicine to inmates in the Baltimore City prison facilities and coordinated treatment plans for HIV/AIDS inmates.
  • Follow up and observation of patients on the medical floor.


Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Hospitalist Physicians

  1. Idaho
  2. Washington
  3. Oregon
  4. Montana
  5. Alabama
  6. Indiana
  7. Tennessee
  8. West Virginia
  9. Louisiana
  10. Kentucky
  • (79 jobs)
  • (564 jobs)
  • (241 jobs)
  • (79 jobs)
  • (125 jobs)
  • (348 jobs)
  • (200 jobs)
  • (73 jobs)
  • (112 jobs)
  • (96 jobs)

Hospitalist Physician Demographics












Hispanic or Latino


Black or African American



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Foreign Languages Spoken


















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Hospitalist Physician Education


King's College


Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai


Emory University


University of Central Florida


Saint Mary's College of Maryland


American University


Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine


State University of New York Downstate Medical Center


Columbia University


State University of New York Stony Brook


George Washington University


Western University of Health Sciences


Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center


Northwestern University


Marymount Manhattan College


University of the Sciences


Ohio University -


Des Moines University - Osteopathic Medical Center


New York - Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical Center


Vanderbilt University

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Physician Assistant




Veterinary Science




Public Health




Osteopathic Medicine




Health/Medical Preparatory Programs


Physiology And Anatomy


Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology


Biomedical Engineering


Computer Information Systems


Health Care Administration


Elementary Education


Medical Clinical Sciences


Secondary Education And Teaching





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Updated May 19, 2020