Monday, February 15, 2010

Who are the people I might see in the ED?

Ok I think this might be the last in my series about the ED. (Unless I think of more things to say or you have a question for me!)

People you might meet when you or your child has to come to the ED

Secretary (Patient greeter, patient access services, etc)- this is the person who will take your name, ask what is wrong and get your insurance information.

Triage nurse- this is the person who will take your vital signs, ask you more about what is wrong. Tell him or her everything about your problem.

Techs- they might stock the room with supplies, take your vital signs, get you water, answer your call light. They are very helpful but they are not nurses.

Nurses- your nurse is probably not the same nurse that you saw at triage. Your nurse is responsible for monitoring your condition, giving you medications, drawing blood, putting in IVs and keeping you informed.

Providers- there are many different providers you might see

Residents- these are doctors who are going through their training to become attendings. They may be emergency medicine, pediatric, family practice, med/peds or other specialties. Most residency programs are 3 years long but then often residents will complete fellowships after that in their particular specialty.

Nurse Practitioners- these are nurses who have gone through advanced training of at least 3 more years after college to get masters degrees. They are trained in advanced assessment techniques and are qualified to make diagnoses, order medications, tests, treatments with a focus on the whole person. They may practice independently or in collaboration with a physician, depending on the state. In the emergency department setting you may see only a nurse practitioner but if you have a more serious problem you are likely to see an attending as well.

Physician Assistants- they are trained to practice medicine under the supervision of a physician. Most PA programs are masters degree programs and their job is similar to that of the NP. In the ED setting you may see only the PA or you may see a PA and an attending depending on the severity of your problem.

Attending physician- Attending physicians are doctors who have gone through at least the 3 years of residency past medical school. They are board certified in emergency medicine and may have completed a fellowship in addition. The attending is the one who is ultimately responsible for the care that you receive in the emergency department.

You may also see respiratory therapists, x ray techs, transporters and housekeepers.

You have the right to know the role of anyone who walks in your room. If you are not sure who someone is, make sure to ask!

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