Life in the Hospital Lane - Who's who in Hospital. Part 2

Wed Dec. 20th 2023

In the world of healthcare, hospitals are bustling hubs of activity. Within these busy walls, a varied group of professionals works together to ensure the well-being of the patients that come their way. From the reassuring smile at the front desk to the skilled hands in the operating room, these heroes form a compassionate, dedicated network that strives to mend, heal, and support. Whether you’ve been within the hospital walls frequently or are new to the scene - it can be daunting remembering the different titles of the professionals you meet, let alone knowing what they do! Here, we set out some professional roles and a brief description of what they do to give an overall picture of how the staff you’ll meet work together. The key roles of staff in a hospital can be broadly categorised into four areas.

Doctors (Medical Staff)


Allied Health Professionals

Support Staff

Every member of the hospital staff plays a unique and crucial role in patient care. Their combined efforts create a supportive and healing atmosphere that makes hospitals more than just buildings; they are places of hope and recovery.

For part one - Doctors (Medical Staff) and Nurses - Click Here

For part three- Support Staff - Click Here

Allied Health Professionals

Allied Health Professionals are university-educated practitioners who work as part of your multidisciplinary healthcare team. They collaborate with Doctors, Nurses, and other healthcare professionals to deliver a wide range of diagnostic, therapeutic, technical, and support services. Given their diverse responsibilities, they operate in both hospital environments and within outpatient and community settings. Some more common examples of Allied Health Professionals you may interact with include:

Dietitians and Nutritionists will work together with the medical team and the patient(and their family) to come up with the best nutritional plan for the patient. This can be quite complex at times depending on where the patient is on their journey. There may be discussions around nasogastric feeding, PEG feeding, intravenous feeding as well as oral feeding. They will give professional advice and work to create a plan around the best formula or foods to ensure the patient remains as healthy as possible and continues to grow and thrive.

Whether prior to being admitted to the hospital, during your stay in the hospital, or for an outpatient check-up, there will often need to be blood tests taken. This is the job of a Phlebotomist. They are trained to take blood samples from patients. Usually, blood is taken from a needle into a vein, but often when a child is very young they can take blood via a fingerprick. In cases where a child has a central line, nurses may opt to draw blood from that source instead. Phlebotomists play a crucial role in aiding healthcare professionals to make informed decisions based on diagnostic laboratory results.

Working as the next step in diagnostics after the Phlebotomist is a Medical Laboratory Scientist. It is unlikely you will meet these technicians, but worth mentioning their role as it is crucial. By conducting laboratory tests on patient samples, they help diagnose and monitor diseases and conditions.

When patients face challenges in performing daily activities due to illness, injury, or other life circumstances - an Occupational Therapist is trained to assess, treat, and support them with recovery. The primary goal of Occupational Therapy is to enable patients to participate in meaningful and purposeful activities that promote health and quality of life. They focus on helping individuals participate in activities including; self-care (e.g., dressing, eating), productivity (e.g., work, school), and leisure (e.g., hobbies, social activities). They collaborate with Doctors, Physical Therapists, and Speech Therapists to provide a holistic approach to recovery. Occupational Therapists assess whether there is any specialist equipment needed to help with developmental delays, sensory processing issues, and challenges related to fine and gross motor skills. Their work is varied and specific to each patient and results in individuals transitioning smoothly back into social, vocational, and recreational activities.

Not to be confused with an Occupational Therapist is a Physiotherapist. While there is some overlap in the rehabilitation of patients they work with, the key distinction lies in the focus of their interventions. Physiotherapists primarily concentrate on physical movement and function. They undertake

assessments, diagnoses, plan treatment and prescribe exercises. Care is also intertwined with manual therapy, pain management, rehabilitation, and self-management support. In the hospital setting, they are often engaged in post-surgical rehabilitation and can aid children with crucial breathing exercises if they are yet to mobilise. Their approach encompasses a wide range of conditions, making them vital to the healthcare team.

It will often be the clinical team that liaises with the Pharmacist while you’re in hospital care; however, once you’ve been discharged, you will need to talk to them about what your child has been prescribed and the amount and timing of doses. It is a good idea to establish a trusting relationship with your local Pharmacist to ensure they understand ongoing medication needs and have a solid understanding of the background of your or your child's particular case. They have a lot of knowledge and are a great resource for parents and caregivers.

Speech and Language Therapists evaluate and treat communication and swallowing disorders, including speech, language, and voice issues. Their expertise extends to all ages, from infants to the elderly. They assist with cognitive-communication disorders, developmental speech delays, stuttering, voice disorders, or swallowing disorders. They work both within hospitals, schools, and community clinics.

Closely linked with speech, is the function of hearing, and Audiologists are the professionals that can assess and treat hearing and balance disorders. They specialise in providing hearing aids, balance assessments, paediatric audiology, tinnitus management, cochlear implant programming, and counselling around hearing disorders.

Not to forget a further sense - that of sight - Optometrists work in both clinical settings in the community and within hospitals to examine and assess the health of the eyes, prescribe corrective lenses, and diagnose and treat eye conditions.

Orthotists and Prosthetists work closely with patients who have limb loss or limb differences to provide custom-designed prosthetics that enhance mobility and function. Their work can vastly improve the quality of life of their patients by the design and fit of orthotic and prosthetic devices to assist individuals with moving independently.

The specialists operating imaging equipment are called Radiologists and Medical Imaging Technologists. X-rays, CT, or MRI machines are the ‘tools of their trade’ - used to aid in the diagnosis of medical conditions. They can also perform image-guided procedures, using imaging techniques to precisely guide the placement of needles or instruments for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. Advances in medical imaging continue to shape and expand the scope of radiology, making it an exciting and dynamic field within medicine.

If you’ve ever needed emergency care, first responders are the Paramedics or EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians): Paramedics are first on the scene in emergencies, providing pre-hospital care, stabilisation, and transportation of patients to medical facilities. Paramedics operate in a high-pressure environment, making split-second decisions to provide critical care in emergency situations. Their skills, training, and dedication are essential in saving lives and improving outcomes for individuals experiencing medical emergencies.

Social Workers support patients and their families by addressing social and emotional challenges. They provide counselling, and advocacy, and connect people with resources to improve their well-being and navigate life's complexities within their various communities.

You may be referred to see a Clinical Psychologist either during a hospital stay or after discharge from the hospital. These professionals assess and treat mental health and emotional issues. They provide ongoing counselling, therapy, and support around issues that patients may experience due to trauma, a diagnosis, or ongoing health difficulties. They have a wealth of experience and can make a positive impact on rehabilitation and long-term healing.

Thank you to our hospital heroes!