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Stucky Fisher Receives Highest Honor from Society of Hospital Medicine

March 31st, 2011 – Dr. Erin Stucky Fisher, Vice Chair of Clinical Affairs, Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and Hospitalist at UC San Diego, Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, was one of four hospitalists to receive the highest honor as a Master of Hospital Medicine (MHM) by the Society of Hospital Medicine this year.

“I’m incredibly humbled, and at the same time, invigorated,” Dr. Fisher remarks. “Receiving this honor alongside the pioneers of hospital medicine has really inspired me to think of what’s next, and about how we continue to improve healthcare delivery for children.”

The MHM is presented as a lifetime achievement award to only two to four hospitalists per year who have contributed to a palpable change in the field of hospital medicine. The MHM selections are based on peer nominations, demonstration of personal character, positions of honor, national distinction in practice, education, or medical research, and an outstanding commitment to furthering the field of hospital medicine and healthcare delivery.

The field of Hospital Medicine actually began at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego. Initiated by Dr. Irvin ‘Buzz’ Kaufman in 1978, the first Hospital Medicine Program in the nation was created here at RCHSD for three main reasons: to care for unassigned patients, to supervise and educate house staff, and to provide a user-friendly service for primary care providers unable to follow their inpatients. Almost twenty years later, in 1996, the term ‘hospitalist’ was first coined by Dr. Lee Goldman and Dr. Robert Wachter in a New England Journal of Medicine article.

“I was very fortunate that Dr. Kaufman offered me the position at Rady Children’s Hospital in 1995 – I was excited to work in cutting edge clinical research, as well as quality and education,” says Dr. Fisher. “Looking back, I just landed at the right time in the field of hospital medicine as it began to gain national recognition – and I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together.”

Amongst Dr. Fisher’s many contributions to the field, she is most proud of the Hospital Medicine Fellowship Program, and publication of the Pediatric Hospital Medicine Core Competencies in the Journal of Hospital Medicine. With an emphasis on quality improvement and clinical research, the UCSD Pediatric Hospital Medicine Fellowship Program was one of the first three in the nation and had over 30 applicants this past year. This past year the PHM Fellowship Directors held a meeting in San Diego and agreed on the core content of the fellowships which is based on the PHM Core Competencies. The competencies are published as 54 chapters divided into 4 areas, all of which were reviewed by numerous external agencies and societies, and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Academic Pediatric Association, and Society of Hospital Medicine. Dr Fisher served as the senior editor for these competencies.

Today, well over 30,000 hospitalists currently practice in North America, with an estimate of 2000 hospitalists focused in pediatrics. The field has grown substantially – in addition to their core expertise in managing the clinical problems of acutely ill and hospitalized patients, hospitalists work to enhance the performance of hospitals and healthcare systems by:

-Prompt and complete attention to all patient care needs including diagnosis, treatment, and the performance of medical procedures (within their scope of practice).
-Employing quality and process improvement techniques
-Collaboration, communication, and coordination with all physicians and healthcare personnel caring for hospitalized patients
-Safe transitioning of patient care within the hospital, and from the hospital to the community, which may include oversight of care in post-acute care facilities.
-Efficient use of hospital and healthcare resources

“In five years, I would love for a more formal certification to validate the competencies of pediatric hospital medicine, and more fellowships to evolve so that pediatricians are uniquely trained to care for children in health systems and quality improvement,” Dr. Fisher shares.

“Most importantly, I hope we continue the movement of pediatric hospital medicine and assure that we’re always thinking about improving healthcare delivery from the context of the child – that their voice is heard, and that they receive what is truly best for them.”

Written by: Shivani Singh, Sr. Writer, Department of Pediatrics, UC San Diego, Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego,