|“A physician assistant career is patient care maximized in one perfect package.”
-Eva Barlogie, Little Rock
There are many staff members who work as a team to care for in health care, whether the patient is in the hospital, or receiving care in an outpatient office or clinic. Some of the many members include:
Physicians: The attending physician is the senior member of the medical staff and is in charge of patient care. Resident physicians and medical students work under the direction of the attending physician and may also participate in the care. The physician may be a Medical Doctor (MD) or a Doctor of Osteopathy (DO). The physician may practice in a primary care environment, such as Family Practice, Internal Medicine, or Obstetrics and Gynecology, or one of the many specialty areas such as Surgery, Emergency Medicine, or Anesthesiology. Some physicians choose to contribute to the health care team by participating in the vital role of research.
Physician Assistants: Physician Assistants (PAs) are medical providers who are nationally certified and state-licensed to practice medicine with the supervision of a physician. They are trained in the medical model and educated similarly to physicians. PAs deliver a broad range of medical and surgical services and perform many of the duties their Physician supervisors do, such as: prescribing medications, performing physical exams, ordering and interpreting labs and diagnostic tests, writing patient orders, making rounds on patients, and performing specific procedures. They practice in primary care or in a broad range of specialty practice areas.
Nursing staff: Registered Nurses (RNs) are responsible for planning nursing care. They provide education about health conditions, and emotional support to patients and their family. Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), nursing students, nursing assistants and nurse aides work under the guidance of a registered nurse.
Advanced-practice nurses (APNs): have advanced training in the nursing model, to diagnose and treat a variety of conditions. They include Nurse Practitioners (NPs) who practice in primary care and some specialty areas, Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) who have training in women's health care, including labor and delivery, and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) who have training in the field of anesthesia. Most states require them to hold a collaborative care agreement with a physician to provide a specified level of oversight.
Pharmacist: The licensed pharmacist prepares and processes medication prescriptions written by the medical provider. They will also educate patients regarding those medications, and consulting with the medical providers about the interactions, side effects, and dosing of the medications. Within the hospital environment, the Pharmacist may play a larger role directly working with the team to plan the safe and effective use of patient’s medication therapy.
Occupational Therapist: Occupational Therapists (OT) work with patients to develop, master, or regain everyday skills that enable them to lead independent lives. For patients with difficulties that inhibit their ability to function independently, they improve on the skills of activities of daily living. Skills may ultimately be developed to help patients attend school or become employed. Occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) work under the supervision of an Occupational Therapist.
Physical Therapist: Physical Therapists (PTs) treat patients whose health-related conditions hinder their ability to move and perform activities of daily living. Treatment plans focus on alleviating pain, restoring function, and preventing further disability from occurring. Physical therapy assistants (PTAs) work under the supervision of a Physical Therapist.
Respiratory Therapist: Respiratory Therapists (RTs) help assess and treat patient who have trouble breathing or who have injuries with the respiratory tract, need pulmonary rehabilitation, or who need assistance with breathing with a mechanical ventilator. They also provide emergency care to patients suffering from many conditions of the heart and lung.
Medical Assistant: Medical assistants (MAs) perform administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians, chiropractors, podiatrists, and other health care providers. Their duties vary with the location, specialty, and size of the practice but may include scheduling and billing, and performing immunizations and taking vital signs.
Educators: Many health care providers, regardless of their primary clinical designation, will contribute to health care by lending their knowledge to future health care providers. They serve full time or part time as Professors, Preceptors and Mentors; sometimes formally in the classroom and other times at the bedside or in the clinic.