A physician is responsible for the diagnosis and medical/surgical treatment of illnesses for patients. They prescribe medications, interpret laboratory and diagnostic test results and perform procedures/surgery. They may choose to be a general practitioner or specialize in a specific body system or a particular type of surgery.
An advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) is a registered nurse that is educated at a master's level in a specific role for a particular population. Examples include nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives.
Nurses provide and coordinate direct patient care. Individuals may decide to enroll in a practical nursing program to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or enter a diploma, associate degree or baccalaureate program to become a registered nurse (RN). An LPN works with stable patients under the direction of a health care provider or RN. RNs have a broader set of duties and responsibilities and are expected to do more critical thinking. RNs are often given unstable patients.
Unlicensed assistive personnel (UAPs) help nurses provide direct care to patients. They work under the supervision of RNs and LPNs and help patients with their activities of daily living and bedside care.
A physical therapist (PT) works with patients after an injury or illness to help improve and prevent further disability by restoring function. PT's methods to treat patients include massage, heat, cold, exercises and electrical stimulation.
An occupational therapist (OT) focuses on improving self-care in activities of daily living by assessing a patient's functional level. They may also evaluate the home for safety and provide equipment recommendations.
Respiratory therapists are educated in methods for improving lung function and oxygenation. They teach patients on the use of different respiratory devices and machines prescribed by the health care provider.
Social workers assist patients and their families in managing social, emotional and environmental factors affecting their well-being. They may make referrals to resources in the community, help secure equipment and health care finances.
A pharmacist is licensed to dispense and formulate medications. They keep a patient file of medications and inform the health care provider of prescribing errors, or when prescribed drugs may negatively interact.
A dietitian works with patients to plan and manage dietary needs. They may create specialized diets for patients and educate them on nutrition.
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