Often, it takes a team of professionals to address a patient’s health care needs. While you are at the University of Michigan Health System, you may come into contact with a number of individuals and wonder what role they play in your recovery, including:
Allied Health Professionals
Allied health professionals are educated to carry out specific tests, treatments and services. Operating room technologists, blood bank professionals, X-ray technicians, therapists, pharmacists, hospital chaplains and social workers are all examples of allied health professionals. They are an important part of your health care.
Your medical care will be provided by a group of physicians and medical students who work together as a team.
An attending physician is a U-M physician who specializes in a certain area of medicine or surgery. Your attending physician will supervise the care you receive from the resident physician and medical students. He/she is responsible for involving other members of your health care team including consulting physicians in your prescribed plan of care.
A resident physician is a doctor who has completed medical school, received his/her medical doctor degree and is now undertaking intensive training for a medical or surgical specialty. Your resident physicians will be the doctors who write orders and make decisions related to your care under the direct supervision of your attending physician.
Medical students are completing the final two years of their four-year course study at the University of Michigan Medical School. They can provide patient care under the direct supervision of your attending physician and resident physicians. When our medical faculty involve residents and medical students in your care, they are able to share their acquired knowledge and expertise with these individuals. This team approach also means that a member of the medical team caring for you is available at all times should any concerns arise.
Nurses are the largest group of health professionals at the University of Michigan Hospitals. With the assistance of nurse aides and others, they are available to meet your needs around the clock. With respect, compassion and attention to your individual needs, nurses listen to your concerns, perform a variety of skilled tasks and provide you and your family with information and skills so that you are prepared to leave the hospital or clinic. In addition, nurses help to coordinate your care with other health care team members while making sure you and your family are involved as partners in your care. Nursing students also provide care under the supervision of a registered nurse.
Dietitians assess your special nutrition needs. We recommend the best diet or feeding to help your body recover. If you are on a special diet, your dietitian can help you understand how to follow that diet at home to maintain your health. Dietitian assistants will help you daily with menu selection and between-meal snack options.
Infection Control Professionals
Infection control professionals help prevent health care-associated infections and outbreaks, take proper corrective measures to limit the extent of infection and help ensure that similar episodes are not repeated. Infection control professionals also assist in the training of health care staff in proper infection control techniques.
Social workers help patients and their families deal with the psychological, emotional and social issues related to injury, hospitalization and after-the-hospital care. They provide information about available hospital and community resources. They can assist with referrals to community agencies for assistance with medical coverage, substance abuse counseling, transportation and disability assistance. Social workers can also provide counsel on a number of issues such as grief, abuse, assault and psychological problems. If you need help in this area, call 734-764-3140.
If you have a question about a member of your team, don't hesistate to ask. We also recommed asking the following questions when you visit your doctor. This allows you to work with your physician to achieve the best results and obtain the most appropriate care. Often it is difficult to think of questions at the time of your examination. We suggest you write them down before you go to the doctor. One way to do this is to think about your questions and divide them into these five categories:
- What is the diagnosis?
Make sure you know how to spell the medical terms and understand what they mean.
- What caused this problem?
- Are there any lifestyle changes I should make?
- What are the names of the prescribed medications?
Be sure you can pronounce and spell them and understand how often you should take them and at what strength. Ask why they are needed. Be sure to tell the physician about all other medications you are taking so that there is no chance of a bad interaction between drugs. This includes over-the-counter medications. Many doctors suggest bringing all the medicine containers with you so there is no confusion about names or dosages.
- What are the side effects of any new medications?
Be sure you tell your doctor about any side effects you are experiencing from medications you are taking. Changes may be made in the strength or type of medication to eliminate the problem.
It is a good idea to write down the answers to your questions so you do not have to depend on your memory later. Bring a friend or your spouse to the appointment to assist with this task. Many patients bring a small tape recorder with them so they can listen to the information again when they get home. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions and record the answers. Your physician and other members of your health care team want you to understand so you can fully participate in your health care.
If you are still uncomfortable about what questions to ask, the University of Michigan Physician Referral Service can help you. If you wish to make an appointment, call the University of Michigan Physician Referral Service toll-free at 1-800-211-8181.