Hospitalist RN Job Description

Hospitalist services involve the general medical care of hospitalized patients. What is a hospitalist RN? A hospitalist is a hospital-based physician who manages treatments and tests prescribed by specialists, while a hospitalist service unit RN collaborates with the hospitalist, specialists and other medical staff to assist with patient treatment. As hospitalist services gain popularity in healthcare facilities, there will be a growing demand for RNs with hospitalist service unit experience.

Job Responsibilities

When a hospitalized patient does not have a primary care physician or is seen by several different specialists, the care of the patient is often directed by a hospitalist. Many hospitals offer this service and have a special unit dedicated to this type of care. RNs working within a hospitalist service unit are responsible for assisting hospitalists and counseling patients concerning health maintenance and prevention of illness and injury. The responsibilities of these RNs include assessing and evaluating patients, and coordinating and managing patient care. In this setting, patient care is delivered while collaborating with patients, their family and members of the healthcare team.

Typical responsibilities of a hospitalist service unit RN include:

  • Monitor patients’ progress and identify changes in health
  • Act on any changes to ensure the comfort and safety of patients
  • Communicate patient status updates to the hospitalist and specialists
  • Provide information and advice on medical conditions to patients and their families
  • Perform diagnostic tests and analyze the results
  • Record patients’ medical histories
  • Administer prescribed medications
  • Deliver health management training to patients and their families
  • Explain post-treatment care

Skills Required for Hospitalist Service Unit RNs

RNs in this field need to be personable, patient and knowledgeable about hospitalist services. Strong interpersonal and oral communication skills are essential, as hospitalist service unit RNs are responsible for providing health education and counseling to patients and their families.

Other key skills for hospitalist service unit RNs include:

  • Keen assessment and observation skills
  • Extensive health education and training
  • Ability to answer patient questions concerning medical conditions
  • Good judgment and decision-making skills

Education and Training

Many hospitalist service units employ RNs with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and extensive clinical experience. However, the best opportunities often go to acute-care nurse practitioners who have a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree and certification.

What Hospitalist Service Unit RNs Can Expect to Earn

According to national salary data on, hospitalist nurse practitioners had an annual income between $77,232 and $93,681 in October 2010. RNs in a similar role will generally earn somewhat less than nurse practitioners, who hold a graduate degree.

Job Outlook

In its Occupational Outlook Handbook for 2010-11, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the job outlook for RNs – including hospitalist service unit nurses – remains excellent, with nursing employment predicted to grow faster than other occupations. RNs seeking to work in a hospitalist service unit should have or be working toward a BSN or MSN degree, as employers prefer candidates with in-depth medical knowledge, an understanding of new innovations in medicine and healthcare, and training in working with diverse patients and conditions.

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