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What Does a Teaching Hospital Mean for My Child's Care?

Friday, April 15, 2016


As a parent at Children’s National, you may notice that a lot of doctors check in with your child every day. Children’s National is part of a rich tradition of teaching hospitals working to train the next generation of physicians. In fact, education is an important part of our mission.

As a second year resident in pediatrics, I occasionally see parents express concern that care from a medical trainee puts their hospitalized child at a disadvantage. However, a number of studies show that the quality of care for patients at teaching hospitals is no different than that of non-teaching hospitals. In fact, there are a number of benefits from being at a teaching hospital:

  • The focus on education at teaching hospitals motivates everyone on the team to stay updated on the most recent research.
  • As centers of academia, teaching hospitals attract many of the top, highest regarded physicians and researchers.
  • Teaching hospitals often have cutting-edge, innovative treatments not offered at other hospitals.
  • Family centered rounds ensure that parents get to participate in planning their child’s care each day.
  • Patient safety is our number one priority. Trainees are always supervised and do not perform procedures that exceed their level of training.

In teaching hospitals, medical trainees expand the size of care teams to include medical students, residents, and fellows. All teams have an attending physician who leads the team. Each of these team members is in a different career stage and plays an important role in your child’s care. You will also likely meet nurses, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, and many other team members who may be in various stages of training, as well.

At Children’s National, our medical trainees include medical students, consisting of 3rd year medical students from local universities and 4th year medical students completing electives and acting internships. Residents, such as myself, are doctors who have graduated from medical school and are now training in their chosen specialty. And fellows are qualified medical doctors who have completed their residency training and are pursuing further sub-specialization.

As a parent, you’ll meet a lot of doctors and trainees at Children’s National in both our inpatient and outpatient centers. All doctors and students wear badges that state our role. We also introduce ourselves when we first meet you. If at any point you’re not sure, it’s ok to ask us what our roles are on the team.

Regardless of where you are seen at Children’s National, you can expect to get safe, high-quality care, all overseen closely by our outstanding attending physicians. You should also know that your child’s treatment is helping to train the next generation of physicians to care for your children, and maybe even your future grandchildren.


Dr. Bryan Stierman, MD, MPH, is a second year resident in pediatrics at Children’s National. 



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