the prairie doc

The entire cast and crew

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When you watch a medical drama on television, the main characters are generally doctors, nurses and patients. We rarely learn about the many extras in the background. In an actual hospital, patients are cared for by their doctors and nurses, along with a large supporting cast and crew. Many of these people, on stage and behind the scenes, rarely get their name in lights. I would like to introduce them now.

Before a patient arrives at the hospital, we often rely on emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and transport teams to safely bring them to the hospital via ground ambulance, helicopter and airplane.

Once the patient reaches their hospital room, those providing direct patient care include nursing assistants and patient care techs. They literally do much of the heavy lifting in the hospital. There is an entire team of therapists including physical, occupational, speech and respiratory, who play a role in developing a rehabilitation plan for each patient. Wound care nurses help manage complex wounds and ostomies. Various radiology techs, phlebotomists and lab staff help administer the tests needed to diagnose patients.

Some play the role of a teacher at the hospital. Dieticians, pharmacists and diabetic educators help patients learn about their conditions, medications and behaviors that can help them live healthier lives. Social workers and case management teams arrange after-care plans including social support, which take effect when the patient is discharged. Many hospitals have palliative care teams and hospice teams whose primary goal is reducing suffering and easing pain. Pastoral care teams help with emotional and spiritual support for patients and their family.

We perform our jobs in a clean, healthy environment thanks to the dietary and kitchen staff, maintenance crew and housekeeping team. Without them we would be hungry, thirsty and cold, without clean sheets, gowns and towels.

Information Technology departments maintain patient portals and electronic medical record systems, giving patients and their care teams access to essential information. Billing, coding and insurance filers ensure the patient data entered is accurate and timely, and there are many others I won’t have the time to mention here.

As a hospitalist, I’m a big fan. I get to work with these professionals every day, and each of them is a star of the show in my opinion. Television and movies may give doctors and nurses all the attention, but I hope I’ve successfully turned the spotlight on the entire cast and crew doing their part for a successful patient story. I hope you join the fan club!

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