Sisters, Stay Alive & Informed!

Officially join my family and receive information, insight and inspiration on living a healthy, happy and prosperous life.

    I am not a robot

    Our Privacy Policy

    Who is Who on the Hospital Team?

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | June 30th, 2024

    Who is Who on the Hospital Team?

    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 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 roles.

    After so many years in practice, I am afraid I have to disagree with most physicians. July is the best time to be sick because everyone is on their A-game. All these people taking on new roles are being watched carefully by those who have been in their roles for a long time (me included) to make sure that they are doing the right thing. The physicians taking on their new roles will be watched closely.

    Typically, many people are involved in your care in a hospital, especially a teaching hospital. When I was admitted to the hospital many years ago, I needed a notebook to keep track of all the people coming into my room. It is essential to know all who are involved in your care and what role they play. It is also necessary for you to know who makes the final decision regarding 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 postgraduate year. The number behind is the year of training. PGY 1 would be someone in their first year of training, while PGY 5 would be someone in their fifth year of training. The years of training will depend on their specialty. An internal medicine physician takes three years to complete training, while a neurosurgeon takes seven years.

    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 student doctors. They are usually the first to see the patient and discover why they entered the hospital. They will get the history, and sometimes they may perform a physical exam.

    Intern: This person just finished medical school. If a medical student is not available, they are usually the first person to see the patient. A resident supervises them. They will have PGY 1 on their badge. They are in their first year after medical school.

    Resident: Finished their first year of training. Depending on their chosen specialty, they can be a resident for 3 – 7 years. They will have PGY 2 and above on their badges.

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

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

    Attending: This is the boss. Sometimes, they may address themselves as the supervising physician. They are ultimately responsible for the care of the patient and make the final decision. Usually, the patient will see this person for a few minutes; however, the medical students, interns, and residents constantly update the attending about the patient’s well-being during the day.

    Consultant: This is the physician who has a particular expertise. They have gone through additional training, such as fellowship. The attending physician asks them to see the patient to assist in their care. They do not make the final decision in your care but can make recommendations to the attending physician. In the hospital, this is usually the hospitalist.

    Hospitalist: Attending physicians responsible for taking 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: An 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 patients in the hospital, but occasionally, they may deal with a non-pregnant patient who has an emergency issue related to gynecology. They are not responsible for the patient once the patient is discharged home. 

    We might not have control of when we or a loved one might need to go to the hospital. Knowing who is part of your care team is essential, whether it is July or May.  Please know that your care team is more than the doctors. We have Patient Care Assistants (PCA), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), Registered Nurses (RNs), Nurse Practitioners (NP), Physician Assistants (PAs), Licensed Independent Social Workers (LISWs), and Pharmacists, to name a few.   Anyone treating you must identify themselves and their role in your care. Carry a notebook and write their names.

    10 Responses to “Who is Who on the Hospital Team?”

    1. Barbra Wright says:

      This valuable information. I will save this and share with others.
      Thank you for all you do!

    2. Linda K. Jackson says:

      Extremely valuable information!!!!! I never knew the various roles of people involved with the care of a patient who’s in the hospital! Thank you so very much!

    3. Very valuable information! Thanks!

    4. Robin S says:

      I agree with the others. This information is very informative.

    5. Rubye Kyles says:

      As a patient in several hospitals for a variety of ailments, asking questions of all personnel is critical for a patient’s well-being: physical and emotional. Thanks Dr. Ngozi for reminding us to have a notebook and pen to record who is treating us and how. A professional who resents questions isn’t in a healing mode. Patients who don’t ask questions of the medical team are not in a learner mode and self-advocacy. Thanks Ngozi for being our teacher.Grade: A+

    Leave a Reply

    Secure Your Copy of Sincerely, Your Gynecologist by Dr. Ngozi Osuagwu.

    With her trademark wit and straightforward communication, Dr. Osuagwu continues to dole out valuable medical advice using the letter form and addressing women’s health conditions and issues in a method that was praised for its innovative approach in her earlier award-winning book, Letters to My Sisters: Plain Truths and Straightforward Advice from a Gynecologist. In this book, each letter is paired with reference sources and statistics about the condition that is the subject of the letter.

    Click here to Buy Now on Amazon

    Secure Your Copy of Letters to My Sisters by Dr. Ngozi Osuagwu.

    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.

    Ready to Commit to Living a Healthier Life, Start Here with…

    Dr Ngozi’s 30 Day Alive & Healthy Challenge

    Get 30 days of insight and inspiration on creating and sustaining a healthy lifestyle straight from the
    doctor. Share this valuable resource with your mother, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, cousins
    and girlfriends. Do it solo, or in a group. Simply do it! Join our mailing list and get instant access to this life-saving resource now!