Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Professional Chain of Command: An Unofficial Chart

The Chain of Command in hospital and clinical settings can be very confusing. Traditionally, the official descriptions of healthcare hierarchy is separate for nurses, physicians and other professionals. However, it benefits the patients to understand where these professions might fall together. This graphic is not based on scientific data but rather observations and opinions of professionals working in healthcare and from those receiving care. This chart is primarily modeled for teaching institutions.

Do you know the roles of all of the people (and others) included in this chart? If not, here are some definitions that may be some help.

Healthcare Administration: leaders who oversee the administration of hospitals, hospital networks, and health care systems.

Some of the titles you may recognize for the administration include: Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, President, Senior Vice President, Chief Executive Officer, Dean, Executive Director, Chair

Attending: an authorized practitioner of medicine, as one graduated from a college of medicine or osteopathy and licensed by the appropriate board. This includes:

Surgeons: a physician who specializes in surgery

Hospitalists: A physician, usually an internist, who specializes in the care of hospitalized patients.

Sub-Specialists: a physician whose practice is limited to a particular branch of medicine or surgery, especially one who, by virtue of advanced training, is certified by a specialty board as being qualified to so limit it

General Practitioner: a physician whose practice consists of providing ongoing care covering a variety of medical problems in patients of all ages, often including referral to appropriate specialists

Fellow: General Surgeons & Internal Medicine physicians training for subspecialties

Chief Resident for Surgery or Medicine: a senior resident physician who acts temporarily as the clinical and administrative director of the house staff in a department of the hospital.

Resident: a graduate and licensed physician receiving training in a specialty with 3-4 years experience, depending on area of study

Physician Assistant: certified by an appropriate board to perform certain of a physician's duties, including history taking, physical examination, diagnostic tests, treatment, and certain minor surgical procedures, all under the responsible supervision of a licensed physician

Nurse Practioner: authorized to practice across the US and have prescriptive privileges in 49 states. NPs also take health histories and provide complete physical examinations; diagnose and treat many common acute and chronic problems; interpret laboratory results and X-rays; and provide health teaching

Intern: An advanced student or recent graduate who assists in the medical or surgical care of hospital patients and who resides within that institution in the first year of residency

Charge Nurse: the nurse assigned to manage the operations of the patient care area for the shift. Responsibilities may include staffing, admissions and discharge, and coordination of patient care.

Nurses (RN): a graduate nurse who has been legally authorized (registered) to practice after examination by a state board of nurse examiners and who is legally entitled to use the designation RN.

Nurses (LPN): graduate of a school of practical nursing who has been legally authorized to practice as a licensed practical or vocational nurse (L.P.N. or L.V.N.), under supervision of a physician or registered nurse

Most of the above definitions were provided by:

For these and more clarification about professional titles visit this website


environmental fiend said...

Holy moly! You've revealed the keys to the kingdom! :)

Tiffany said...

haha! yes, i have. :)

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