We Have Met So Many People Involved In My Wife’s Care?

Who are all these people, and what do they do?

The healthcare team is composed of different professionals who are specially trained to deal with the medical and emotional issues you are confronting. Become familiar with these people and the ways they can help you. The following is a list of the standard team members and what they can do for you: ? Physicians and surgeons (MDs). May include a medical oncologist (expert in chemotherapy, among other cancer treatments), a surgeon, and/or a radiation oncologist (expert in radiation therapy).

There are many additional doctors and specialists who may be involved in determining the diagnosis of cancer and/or its treatment. If you are unfamiliar with the different terms used to describe these specialists, feel free to ask these professionals for clarification. ? Nurses. Registered nurses (RNs) typically have a four-year college degree and hospital training. They are an integral part of patient care and will be extremely helpful to you. Nurses provide patient care on the inpatient floors and outpatient centers, and they can be very specialized in the type of care they provide. A nurse practitioner (NP) is an advanced practice clinician with a master’s degree who, under supervision of a doctor, can prescribe medications and write medical orders in most states, provide direct medical care, and serve as a good resource for important information.

A clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is a nurse with a master’s degree who can provide patient care, but also specializes in the role of an educator in a medical specialty. Depending on your state and hospital policies, other people may be involved in different types of hands-on patient care, including licensed practical nurses (LPN), nursing assistants, and patient certified technicians (PCT). ? Physician assistants (PA). PAs are medical professionals that can diagnose, treat, and write prescriptions and medical orders, all under the supervision of a physician. Many clinics and hospitals employ both PAs and NPs to assist the physicians treating cancer. ? Social workers.

In most states, certified or licensed social workers (CSW, LCSW, LSW) usually have at least a master’s degree (MSW, MSSW). They are available to assist you in coping with the diagnosis, the stress of adjustment to treatment and hospitalization, and can provide counseling to patients and their families. They also may help identify community resources and may coordinate patient discharge from the hospital. ? Case managers (or discharge planners). Some hospitals have nurse case managers who are responsible for coordinating discharge from the hospital, whereas at other hospitals social workers perform this role. Find out who performs this role at your hospital so that you can contact that person to discuss  home care, equipment, placement (e.g., nursing home), or other discharge needs when your loved one goes home. ? Interns/residents/fellows.

If your loved one is being treated at a teaching hospital, he or she may have a variety of “doctors-in-training.” These team members often can be helpful and supportive of you. Remember, however, that the  attending physician is the person who is in charge of a hospital patient’s care, and that if you have questions or think that you have been given inconsistent information, you can ask to speak directly to the attending physician in charge of your loved one’s care.? Clinical dietitians/nutritionists. They are available to provide education on the role of diet in a patient’s recovery from cancer. They are often part of the inpatient team and sometimes are available in out-patient clinics as well.

You may want to contact one of these professionals to answer any questions you may have on what foods to eat, preparation of food, and any foods your loved one should avoid during or after treatments. Hospitals also employ many other experts who may be involved in your spouse’s care, such as patient advocates/representatives, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, other physician specialists, hospital chaplains, technicians, and patient escorts. It is often helpful for you and your loved one to get to know these people. By making a personal connection, you may feel more comfortable and supported by those around you.