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    Who is who in the hospital?

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | July 2nd, 2017

    Who is who in the hospital?

    We have a saying among physicians – “you never want to be sick and admitted to the hospital in July”. In medicine, July 1st is the beginning of our year. Physicians in training will assume a new role.  Medical students have graduated and are now newly minted physicians. They have chosen their specialty and will be interns. The previous interns will now become residents and the previous residents will go to the next level. Some residents who have finished their training will now be attending physicians. In July, most physicians are new in their role.

    Typically, in a hospital especially a teaching hospital, there are a lot of people involved in your care. I know when I was admitted to the hospital, I needed a note book just to keep track. It is important to know all who are involved in your care and what role they play. It is also important for you to know who makes the final decision when it comes to your care.

    Here is a primer of the various physicians walking around the hospital.

    You might see the letter PGY and then a number. PGY stands for post graduate year. The number behind is the year of training. PGY 1 – would be someone that in their first year of training while PGY 5 is someone in their 5th year of training.

    Medical Student (MS): Students currently in medical school. They are usually 3rd or 4th year students. This may be designated on their badge as MS 3 (3rd year) or MS 4 (4th year). They may introduce themselves as a student doctor. They are usually the first ones that see the patient and find out why the patient came into the hospital. They will get the history and sometimes they may perform a physical exam.

    Intern:  Just finished medical school. They are usually the first person that sees the patient if a medical student is not available. They are supervised by a resident.

    Resident: Finished their first year of training. Depending on what specialty they have chosen, they can be a resident for 3 – 5 years.

    Chief resident: A resident in their final year of training.

    Fellow:  Finished residency and wants to do more training. They want to be the expert in a narrow area of study. They want to sub-specialize.

    Attending: This is the boss.  They are ultimately responsible for care of the patient. They make the final decision. Usually the patient will see this person for a few minutes , however the residents is constantly updating the attending of the patient’s wellbeing during the day.

    Hospitalist: Attending physician whose responsibility is to take care of patients admitted to the hospital. They do not see patients in a private office outside of the hospital. They are not responsible for the patient once the patient is discharged home.

    Laborist: Attending physician who is an obstetrician/gynecologist who only sees women in the hospital and mostly works in the labor and delivery unit. Their main responsibility is taking care of pregnant patient s in the hospital but occasionally they may deal with a non-pregnant patient that has an emergency issue related to gynecology.  They are not responsible for the patient once the patient is discharged home. Not yet the norm around the country.

     

    We might not have control of when we or a loved one might need to go to the hospital. Whether it is July or May, it is important to know who is part of your care team.  Please know that your care team is more than the doctors. It includes nurses, pharmacists and social workers to name a few.    It is important that anyone treating you clearly identifies themselves and the role they play in your care.

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    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

    The second half of the book briefly discusses the most common gynecological conditions and also provides an overview of sexually transmitted infections. A list of annotated websites dealing with the different topics in the book is provided for the reader who wants to pursue each subject in depth.




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