Who Are All These People in My Hospital Room?

December 22, 2016 7:00 AM

While you’re in the hospital, a host of medical pros may come to your room during “rounds.” This primer explains who visits and why.


At a teaching hospital like the University of Michigan, your room is likely to fill up with many new faces as your doctor visits your room. This can lead you to wonder: Who are all these people in my room?

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The answer is simple and complex: They’re all there to care for you, and each has a specific reason for visiting.

Here’s a rundown of some of the people who might be present during your hospital stay, and what they do:

  • First is your doctor, who is the attending physician or senior physician. He or she also functions as the “teacher” physician.

  • A pharmacy student and a clinical pharmacist teacher monitor your medications.

  • social worker is a health care professional trained to assist with social needs.

  • A nurse practitioner is a nurse with graduate-level education who’s trained to diagnose and treat disease.

  • A physician assistant is a medical professional with graduate-level education who’s trained to diagnose and treat disease.

  • Medical students are learning your history as part of their education.

  • Residents are physicians who are learning to deliver patient care.

Together on the journey

These professionals (and more) make up your health care team and contribute to formulating your comprehensive care plan. But they can’t do it without you.

To reinforce this, the U-M Frankel Cardiovascular Center team is bringing patients into the health care circle as part of its Patient and Family Centered Care (PFCC) program, which is based on the slogan “Nothing about me, without me.”

The PFCC program removes the barriers between medical professional and medical patient by valuing the concerns, opinions and voices of patients and their families.

“PFCC means we’re all in the care journey together,” says Kim Allen Eagle, M.D. “We — including the patient and his or her family — are working together to try to improve the patient’s health state.”

The team, Eagle says, “starts with the patient. They have to fully embrace their participation. As health care providers, we need to find transparency in how we document their medical journey.”

To do this, the U-M cardiovascular center team practices bedside rounding in which the care team collaborates at the bedside with the patient and family to address any concerns and to discuss the plan of care. Bedside rounding helps improve patient satisfaction and results in better coordination of care.

Eagle explains how it works.

SEE ALSO: Palliative Care Team Provides Help for Patients with Chronic Illness

“When we go into a patient’s room, I introduce everyone with me — medical students, nurses and doctors — and explain what they do. I tell my patients, ‘We’re going to answer all your questions so you feel comfortable,’” says Eagle. “The patient has questions and fears, and we’re there explain to them what the tests are and why the patient is getting them.”

According to medical student Meti Gebregiorgis, “We know the patient wants to be communicated to instead of having things being communicated behind their back and having incomplete information.”

To support bedside rounding, cardiovascular center health care professionals practice the PFCC bedside rounds initiative known as MICARE, a U-M effort that models a new type of care for the next generation of doctors, highlighting the importance of each patient’s active role in his or her health care.

“By including patients and their families and encouraging them to ask questions, they feel more in control of their own care,” says Eagle.

For more information, learn about patient-centered care in the award-winning UMHS book “Inspired to Change: Improving Patient Care One Story at a Time.”