Have you ever heard of a hospitalist? I had not until a friend was in the hospital, then I learned that a hospitalist is a doctor who cares for you (just) in the hospital. Instead of having primary care doctors or specialists make rounds, a hospitalist cares for admitted patients instead. The hospitalists are on duty 24/7/365 so a physician is always available to handle emergencies and on-going care.

“Hospitalists know every specialist and department,” reads the brochure. It seems that hospitalists are the healthcare equivalent of a utility infielder in baseball or a stringer in journalism. They are the good voice in the chorus or the administrative assistant who handles a variety of tasks.

In short, their specialty is being a generalist.

There are so many areas today where people specialize: coaches for each aspect of the game, accountants for certain types of businesses, lawyers who practice in one segment of the law and tradesmen who complete one segment of a construction project. All this specialization leads to depth, yes, but it also leads to a more narrow view of the whole.

Think of how you can incorporate the hospitalist concept into your organization. Is there an area which could benefit from a generalist? Or maybe someone to handle a variety of tasks? Or perhaps you just need someone well-trained to handle the extra workload or to increase your capacity at certain times of the year?

Generalists may not be specialists, but they certainly are special.

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