What to Expect When Your Child is Hospitalized

People Who Will Care For Your Child

During your child’s stay at the hospital, your child’s medical care team may include some of the following medical and support professionals.

  • Attending Physicians (MD) are senior doctors who oversee your child’s medical care.
  • Fellows (MD) are licensed doctors who are in training for a particular specialty area of care.
  • Interns or Residents (MD) are licensed doctors in training after medical school, who take care of your child’s day-to-day medical needs.
  • Physician Assistants (PA) are licensed medical professionals who typically work with surgeons and other specialists, and assist by following up with patients and families.
  • Advanced Practice Nurses (APN) have advanced nursing education in diagnosis and management of care, and work in collaboration with the doctors on the medical team.
  • Registered Nurses (RN) are involved with the day-to-day care of your child. They assess your child’s needs with the whole team and provide ongoing care.
  • Clinical or Shift Coordinators (RN) are nurses who oversee all the nursing care on your child’s unit. They also help your child's care team with discharge planning.
  • Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) are members of your child’s care team who work under the supervision of the team’s registered nurses.
  • Unit Managers (RN) are responsible for the overall operation and management of the unit.
  • Patient Care Technicians (PCT) are clinical professionals who assist the unit’s nurses with patient care such as bathing, dressing changes, nutritional needs, and taking vital signs.
  • Patient Services Associates (PSA) are members of the care team who support staff, keep the area neat, and provide meal trays, snacks, and other services as needed.
  • Clinical Dietitians are professionals and members of the care team who monitor your child’s nutritional status and provide specialized education regarding nutritional requirements.
  • Physical Therapists (PT) are clinical professionals who help patients regain or maintain strength and fitness by working with them to get out of bed, walk around the unit, and perform exercises.
  • Occupational Therapists (OT) are clinical professionals who help patients become as independent as possible by teaching them how to care for themselves and handle day-to-day activities important to their rehabilitation.
  • Respiratory Therapists (RT) are clinical professionals who focus on care that affects a patient’s ability to breathe.
  • Case Managers (RN) are nurses who help plan for a patient’s discharge from the hospital. They make referrals to home care services and transitional care facilities, arrange home equipment and supplies, work to obtain medications, and set up ambulance transports if needed. They also can answer questions about health insurance plans and benefits.

About Hospitalists

A pediatric hospitalist is a board-certified pediatrician who specializes in the care of hospitalized infants, children, and adolescents. Hospitalists serve as the attending doctors, working closely with medical, surgical, and emergency medicine specialists, making sure inpatients receive well-coordinated, compassionate care.

The hospitalist physicians at Children’s National ensure that every inpatient is monitored and cared for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Children’s hospitalists attend to more than 15,000 inpatients each year, treating children with both common and complex health conditions. Because hospitalists are able to continuously reevaluate your child’s condition, they can quickly follow-up on any complications, ensuring timely testing, treatment, and discharge.

While your child is a patient at Children’s National, the hospitalist’s primary role is to look after your child. Our hospitalists work in consultation with your child’s pediatrician to supervise and coordinate all areas of your child’s care.

Despite being one of the busiest clinical services at the hospital, Children's hospitalists also have an important academic role in resident and student teaching, as well as in research.

About Teaching Hospitals

Children’s National Health System is a teaching hospital, which means it partners with medical schools and plays an important role in training doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers. Our hospital has become one of the most respected and most desired training centers in the country for children’s medical care. The team caring for your child may include fellows or residents who are doctors receiving advanced training in a specific area of medicine. This means that your child may be seen by several different people. Any interns, residents, or fellows are medical school graduates, and they are supervised by our specialists and attending doctors.

About Research Institutes

Children’s National also is one of the top research institutes in the country. There are more than 300 scientists and doctors who work with our Children’s Research Institute (CRI) to improve child health and well-being. Through our affiliations with leading research organizations around the country, including the National Institutes of Health, we are able to offer our patients and families the most advanced treatments available. We also can frequently offer access to clinical trials. However, no child is ever included in a clinical trial without a thorough description of what is involved. Parent or guardian consent is required for any patient to be included in clinical trials, and participation is always voluntary.