Objectives: To document the prevalence and practice patterns of pediatric hospitalists in academic centers in Canada and the United States; to characterize academic pediatric department chairs' definition of the term hospitalist; and to characterize pediatric department chairs' views of the training requirements for pediatric hospitalists.
Methods: A 14-item questionnaire was sent to all 145 pediatric department chairs from Canada and the United States during the fall of 1998. We defined hospitalists as physicians spending at least 25% of their time in inpatient care.
Results: Of the 145 eligible pediatric chairs, 128 (89%) responded (United States, 111/126; Canada, 14/16; Puerto Rico, 3/3). Ninety-nine (77%) of 128 pediatric chairs either have (64/128) or are planning to have (35/128) hospitalists in their institutions. Within academic programs with hospitalists, 82% of hospitalists currently work on general pediatric wards. Two thirds of hospitalists teach, 50% provide outpatient care, 50% have administrative duties, and 44% conduct research. One hundred eight (84%) of 128 believe that hospitalists should spend at least 50% of their time in inpatient care. Less than one third (30%) of pediatric chairs believe that hospitalists require training not currently provided in residency.
Conclusions: A large proportion of academic pediatric centers either employed or planned to employ hospitalists in 1998. Pediatric academic department chairs do not see a need for training beyond residency for hospitalists. Further studies should address how pediatric hospitalists affect quality of care, cost, and patient satisfaction.