Your Care Team

Attending Physician

The doctor is primarily responsible for your care while you are in the hospital. This may be your primary care physician, a specialist such as a heart or kidney doctor, or a doctor assigned to you when you were admitted. The name of the attending physician should be on your wrist bracelet and the white board on the wall of your hospital room. Your attending physician will see you regularly to examine you, to discuss your progress, and to notify you and your family of any plans for tests or changes in your treatment. He or she will answer any questions that you may have, and will arrange for follow-up when it is time for discharge from the hospital.


An attending physician who specializes in caring for hospitalized patients. Your primary care doctor may arrange to have a hospitalist, who is always on-site, to oversee your care while in the hospital. The hospitalist will manage your course of treatment and consult with specialists as needed while staying in close contact with your primary care physician. Learn more about the Hospitalist Service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

House Staff

The doctors-in-training that work in a team and are supervised by your attending physician. They include:

  • Interns: Doctors in their first year of training after medical school.
  • Residents: Second- to fifth-year trainees.
  • Fellows: Physicians who have completed residency, and are specializing in a particular area of medicine or surgery, such as cardiology or gastroenterology.
  • Medical Students: from Harvard Medical School.

Nursing Staff

A registered nurse (RN) will care for you throughout your hospital stay. Your nurses will make sure that you receive the appropriate medications, any medical or postsurgical treatments you require (such as dressing changes), and the diagnostic tests ordered by your doctor. Your nurse also will provide information and education that you will need to prepare you for discharge and may help arrange home care services if necessary. Your nurse, or one of the assistant nurse managers, is always available to answer any questions or to discuss concerns that you or your family may have.

Care Coordinators/Case Managers

Nurses or social workers who may assist in your care while you are in the hospital, in particular when it is time for discharge planning. The care coordinator knows various resources in your community and can help to arrange home care, or, if needed, help you or your family choose a skilled rehabilitation or nursing facility. She or he also can help with any questions or problems regarding your medical insurance or financial issues during your hospital stay. Learn more about BWH Care Coordination and Social Work.


A dietitian may visit you during your hospital stay to review your diet and meal selections and make any recommendations about how your diet should be changed to improve your health. He or she also may provide specific instructions for patients who are unable to eat a regular diet (for example, intravenous feedings for a patient who cannot eat by mouth). You can contact the Nutrition Consultation Service at (617) 732-6054 if you need help with a diet after you leave the hospital.

Physical and Occupational Therapists

Assist patients with physical disabilities related to stroke, orthopedic problems, arthritis or general weakness after medical illnesses or surgery. They may help determine if you are safe to get around at home and, if necessary, can provide you with devices that will improve your safety and mobility.

Respiratory Therapists

Assist patients who need oxygen or special breathing treatments during their hospital stay. They also will help plan for discharge if the patient needs these treatments when they are home.

Other Hospital Staff

Chaplains and pharmacists also may be involved in your care. You also will meet many people, including housekeepers and dietary workers, who will be in and out of your room on a regular basis to attend to your needs. Learn more about our Chaplaincy services.


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