Healthcare requires more than just a doctor. Healthcare at its most basic requires a team of healthcare providers and assistants. No matter what the health issue, you will need at least two people on your healthcare team. So, who are these people? When we go to the doctor, our main focus is the doctor or the specialist and we hardly think about the nurses, the administrative personnel, and technicians. All of these people from part of a healthcare team.
Healthcare providers can be divided into groups.
The doctors are the primary care providers. A doctor studies for many years and gains experience for a few more years before he or she can actually practice as a doctor. There are different types of doctors. The doctors that we all refer to as ‘doctor’ is also called a physician or general practitioner. We go to them for first-level diagnoses and the treatment of colds, flu, and other conditions.
Other doctors are called specialists and have specialized in a field that usually requires more studying after completing their normal medicine studies. There is a wide range of specialists that include urologists, neurologists, cardiologists, oncologists, chiropractors, psychologists, dentists, paediatricians, etc.
Nurses are not only in hospitals. There may be trained and registered nurses in a doctor’s office to take blood pressure, do blood sugar tests, draw blood, etc. Nurses work closely with patients and their job in the healthcare process is often more important for recovery than the doctor’s. They take care of patients and are there when things go wrong. Nurses can have different levels of qualification based on their studies and experience.
Pharmacists have to study for a long time and know a lot about chemicals, medicines, side effects, and toxins. They are the people who give patients medications that a doctor prescribed for a specific condition. They can also advise patient’s on over-the-counter medication to help with certain conditions. Pharmacists often help doctors understand what types of medicine to prescribe together to avoid serious side effects in the patient. They offer instruction on how to take medication and an answer the questions of the patient.
Administrative staff at a doctor’s office or a hospital is also an important part of the healthcare team. Without them, things may go very wrong. They handle appointments, payments, patient files, health insurance companies, specialists, medical reps, etc. They make the doctor’s office or hospital run. They are definitely an integral part of the team.
Technologists and Technicians
Before making a diagnosis, doctors often need more information about what is going on in the patient’s body. To get this information, the doctor may send blood or urine samples to a lab for analysis. The technicians who work in the lab look for all kinds of things in the blood or urine to help the doctor make a diagnosis. These are laboratory technicians. The second set of technicians are radiology technicians. They are the people who take x-rays so a radiologist can evaluate them and make a diagnosis. Pharmacy technicians help pharmacists get prescriptions ready and even help with customers. All these technicians play an important part in the team.
Therapists are also specialists, but their services are different from those of doctors. They help people recover from illness or injury through working on physical aspects like speech, movement, coordination, etc. The main types of therapists include:
Physical therapists – They work with a person’s muscles, movement, strength, etc. They are usually part of rehabilitation after an injury. People also visit them to loosen tense muscles or get rid of built-up tension. Sports players make use of physical therapists on a regular basis.
Occupational therapists – They also offer rehabilitative types of services. They work with children with developmental or mental problems. They work with patients who were injured or had a stroke and need to learn to walk, talk, brush their teeth, pick up a spoon, etc. all over again
Speech therapists – They work with people who struggle with speech, language, or swallowing. They help children with speech defects or who have trouble using a language correctly, etc.
The work that therapists do has a wide range and their rehabilitative and corrective services are crucial to especially children and people who have been severely injured.
Your Healthcare Team
The specific healthcare team you need to address your individual health issues will be different from someone else’s. A person with a sports injury will have different providers in his team than someone who is suffering from food poisoning or who was in a serious car accident. The healthcare team usually starts with the doctor who then refers the patient to the other members of the team for their specialized services. That is how your healthcare team gets built.
It should be clear that healthcare providers come in all shapes and sizes and that each of them has a very specific and necessary role in the healthcare process. So, next time you need to visit a doctor or specialist, think about all the people involved with helping you get better and healthy again. It is quite amazing.