Meet the Team
There are more than a dozen staff members in an emergency department, each with specialized training to address the any emergency. Here are four key players.
These specialists are trained to treat all types of adult and pediatric emergencies including medical, surgical, trauma, cardiac, orthopedic, and obstetric. Following medical school, doctors who choose to specialize in emergency medicine complete a three- to four-year residency program devoted to acute care. And, like the ones you see on TV, they are dedicated, caring men and women committed to providing patients with the best medical care possible.
Often referred to as PAs, physician assistants are licensed to practice medicine under the supervision of a physician. Formally trained to provide diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive health care services, physician assistants take medical histories, examine and treat patients, order and interpret laboratory tests and X-rays, and make diagnoses.
Most hospitals require the registered nurse (commonly referred to as an RN) to have several years of nursing experience before they can work in the emergency department. Some of the nurses have even completed advanced studies in emergency nursing. The emergency nurse is trained in assessing a patient's treatment needs. That's why a patient experiencing chest pain may be seen before someone who has a sore throat. They serve as a key link between patients along with their families and the physician.
These staffers assist both the nurses and the patients. They get patients settled in and perhaps take a patient's temperature, pulse, and blood pressure. While they cannot administer medications, they may also assist the nurse by obtaining blood specimens for lab tests and helping you feel more comfortable in the ER by getting you food and blankets.
Thoroughly explaining any symptoms or pain as well as all the medications being taken and family medical history is important in a patient's treatment. And while a patient may e more likely to have the most contact with the ER doctor, nurse and nursing assistant, everyone on the emergency department team is here to help.