Hospital Role Quick Guide

In Getting to Know Your Care Team, we shared some of the ways to introduce yourself to your medical team and questions to ask for better understanding of their roles. In this quick guide, we will dive further into the more common hospital staff that are involved in your direct care.

Depending on the reason for your hospital stay, the involvement of these staff members in your care may vary.

Staff Title

Role in Your Care

Attending/Hospitalist (DO, MD)

Your attending physician is responsible for managing all the care given to you at the hospital. Any decisions regarding treatment plans, medications, and your overall health will be coordinated through them.

Case Manager

Case managers help assess any needs both inside and outside of the hospital and coordinate care with other providers. In hospitals, case managers are often nurses who help with discharge planning and ensure outside placement, home health, and medical equipment are set up prior to discharge.

PRO TIP: The process of discharge can be performed by different individuals at each hospital. You may hear the names Discharge Planner, Care Coordinator, Nurse Navigator, and/or Social Worker regarding your discharge planning. These individuals will perform many of the duties noted above.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

Certified Nursing Assistants perform care tasks under the supervision of nurses. CNA’s assist with things like bathing, toileting, feeding, obtaining vital signs, etc.

Fellows (DO, MD)

Fellows are physicians who have finished their residency training and are pursuing additional specialized training in a particular medical field. A fellow will work with your attending physician to manage your care.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

LPNs work under the supervision of a registered nurse. Scope of duties may vary state by state, but can include medication administration, wound care, and assistance with activities of daily living, like hygiene, going to the bathroom, eating, dressing, etc.

Medical Student

Medical students are individuals currently enrolled in school to become physicians. Students work closely with residents and attending physicians to assist with care, although they are not licensed and receive close supervision and support from other physicians.

Nurse Practitioner (NP)

Nurse practitioners will often collaborate with an attending physician to provide care. NPs can diagnose, develop treatment plans, order diagnostic testing, and prescribe medications. Oversight rules of an NP by a physician may vary state by state.

Patient Care Technician (PCT)

Patient Care Technicians perform certain care tasks (like a CNA) under the supervision of licensed personnel. PCTs usually receive additional training in comparison to a CNA and can perform certain advanced tasks (If their facility allows it).

Phlebotomist (Lab)

Phlebotomists are individuals trained in drawing blood. You may meet them when they come into your room to get blood for different tests.

Physician Assistant (PA)

Physician Assistants, much like a nurse practitioner, can diagnose, develop treatment plans, order diagnostic testing, and prescribe medications. They work under the direct supervision of the attending physician.

Registered Nurse (RN)

Registered nurses provide hands-on patient care under the direction of a physician’s orders. They can perform actions such as: medication administration (including chemotherapy), care coordination, physical assessments, provide basic care and comfort, etc. Registered Nurses can also be tasked as Charge Nurse of their respective units. A charge nurse will ensure that patient assignments are delegated, the units are staffed for the shift (in conjunction with the unit manager), and assist with overall patient care.

Residents (DO, MD)

Residents have graduated from school with an MD or a DO and are pursuing additional training in a specialty. Residents work under the direct supervision of the attending physician. Residents in their 1st year of residency are often referred to as Interns.

Social Work

Social workers can be involved in connecting you to resources to help support you after the hospital, to help with discharge planning, and to help with emotional support and supportive counseling during your hospital stay.

For additional insight regarding some of the common specialty and support roles that may be involved in your care, please see Specialty and Support Staff Explained.