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One of the Fastest Growing Specialties in Medicine

Narrator:        This is Science Today. One of the fastest growing specialties in medicine is a field that barely existed a decade ago: hospital medicine, or hospitalists. These inpatient physicians are usually trained in general internal medicine and work solely in the hospital setting, caring for patients from admission to discharge. Andrew Auerbach, is a hospitalist and researcher at the University of California, San Francisco.

Auerbach:       In the earlier era, hospitalists were hired by hospitals to provide care to patients who didn't have insurance and didn't have a primary doctor - so they needed someone in the hospital to take care of them anyway. And that job, I think in different places, it grew for different reasons. But that job started to expand as outpatient doctors started realizing that it was very hard to come in to see one patient a month or one patient every other week when you had to see so many patients in the outpatient setting.

Narrator:        Auerbach says a decade ago, there were about a thousand hospitalists in the United States. Now, some estimate there are as many as twenty thousand.

Auerbach:       That is incredible - I mean, we can't think of any other example in recent past of a specialty that kind of grew.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.