Understanding your Health Care Team Roles
University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics provides a wide range of clinical services. Your particular condition may draw on the expertise and care of several health care professionals available. Here are brief descriptions of those who might participate in your care.
The doctors at UI Hospitals & Clinics have advanced training and many are specialists in a chosen area of medicine. Fellows and resident doctors are licensed physicians, and, along with medical students, may participate in your care.
An attending doctor (often called the “staff” doctor) leads your health-care team and has overall responsibility for your care while you are in the hospital. Along with resident doctors, the attending doctor examines you, monitors daily progress, plans care, and oversees treatment.
Fellows are licensed doctors who have completed a residency program and are completing additional advanced training in another specialty area.
Residents are licensed doctors who are receiving additional specialty training. During their residency program, they provide care under the supervision of the attending doctor. Residents take shifts to assure coverage in the hospital 24-hours a day, seven days a week. They have close contact with patients and families.
Medical students have a college degree and are currently enrolled in medical school. During medical school, students spend time in the hospital gaining hands-on experience by observing physicians and learning from patient interactions. This experience helps medical students choose which medical specialty, or area of medicine, they want to pursue.
Physician assistants are health professionals certified to practice medicine with doctor supervision. They make medical decisions and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services.
ARNPs are licensed independent practitioners who have a collaborative practice with doctors and nurses. They also hold a certification in a specialized area of advanced practice.
Many types of nurses will help care for you. They provide care and treatment and will be a very important part of your daily experience.
Registered nurses (R.N.) are responsible for all general nursing care and for teaching patients and their families.
Licensed Practical Nurses
A licensed practical nurse (L.P.N.) will be assigned to you each shift and will assist the R.N.
A nursing assistant (N.A.) will be assigned to you each shift to support the nursing team.
Nurse managers (N.M.) are responsible for the overall leadership of the unit and are a resource for patients and families who need help resolving problems or addressing concerns.
Assistant Nurse Managers
Assistant nurse managers (A.N.M.) support nurse managers as needed.
Nursing Unit Clerks
The nursing unit clerks provide clerical support for each unit and communicate patient and family requests to others on the care team. They assist with patient admission, transfer, and discharge. The unit clerk can answer many of your questions about non-medical hospital services.
Dietitians help ensure that you receive appropriate nutrition to support healing. They are available to explain special diets if needed.
Music therapists design treatment sessions to help patients cope with their hospitalization and individual medical conditions. Music therapy soothes and helps ease pain.
These staff members assess your motor, sensory, cognitive, perceptual, and psychosocial development. They help patients gain maximum independence in their daily life.
Pharmacists prepare and dispense medications. They work closely with doctors and nurses to monitor drug therapies and to prevent or correct drug interactions. They are available to answer any questions you may have about your medicines.
These staff members draw blood for laboratory tests.
Physical therapists evaluate the patient’s developmental and functional skills. They treat physical, developmental, and neurological problems, and help you learn to use your body through exercise.
Respiratory therapists evaluate and treat patients with breathing problems. They provide oxygen and other therapies, monitor ventilator functions, and offer education and equipment to patients who need ongoing respiratory care.
Social workers help families with emotional, physical, and financial concerns related to your illness. They are available to help during treatment, hospitalization, and discharge. Social workers refer families to financial and social service resources and coordinate with community and educational agencies near your home. To contact Social Service, call 1-319-356-2207.
Chaplains offer spiritual support, care, and counsel to assist you with spiritual issues related to your illness and hospitalization.
It is possible that students from many health-related fields will be active and helpful in your care. They work closely with our staff and are held to the same standards regarding patient confidentiality and practice as the hospital staff. Students do not make independent decisions about your care.
You or your family members may meet a volunteer during your hospital stay. Volunteers are important members of the health-care team.