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Who Are All These People In White Lab Coats?

In a modern hospital, white lab coats are no longer just for physicians and surgeons. Here's a breakdown on who might be walking into your hospital room.

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Doctor of Medicine

Via mercymedicalresidency.org

The most widely-recognized type of person in a white lab coat, M.D.s could be your "attending" who makes decisions about your overall health or a "consultant" who offers a specialized view of one aspect of your health.

Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine

Via wisegeek.com

With equal training and practice rights as M.D.s plus preventative care and holistic education, your physician or surgeon could be a D.O. "Attendings" or "consultants," Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine guide patient care.

Physician Assistant

Via onlinedegrees.org

Physician assistants (P.A.s) can play just about any role as an M.D. or D.O., but they are always under the supervision and direction of a doctor. Compared to a doctor, it takes less schooling to become a physician assistant, and a P.A.'s scope of practice is limited by how much additional training they pursue.

Nurse Practitioner

Via nogre.com

Also known as an advanced practice registered nurse (A.P.R.N.), a nurse practitioner (N.P.) pursued extra education after general nursing training and has practice rights limited by this education. In some states and contexts (typically primary care), N.P.s can practice independently of physicians.

Pharmacist

Via wisegeek.com

Pharmacists advise patients and healthcare providers on the selection, dosages, interactions, and side effects of medications and act as a learned intermediary between a prescriber and a patient.

Therapist

Via pchonline.org

Respiratory therapists, speech therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, music and art therapists and several other types of therapists focus on patients' skills and function.

Technician

Via myultrasoundtechschools.com

Radiology technicians, pharmacy technicians, surgical technicians, electroencephalogram technicians, patient care technicians; there are a lot of technicians who assist caregivers in the hospital.

Students

Via icahn.mssm.edu

Unlicensed, incompletely-trained students of all kinds could walk into your hospital room in a white lab coat. Usually, a student's white coat is short, about waist-length with a patch from his or her school.

It takes a team.

Via research-chemical-wholesale.com

When you are sick in the hospital, it takes a whole lot of people to get you better. And these days, a lot of these people wear a white lab coat. Make sure you learn who is who and always remember that the leader of your healthcare team is YOU!

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