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The Informed Parent

The Role of Residents In A Hospital

by John H. Samson, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Dec. 19, 2011

Last month I was admitting a nine-year-old boy with asthma. He had been at camp without his medication and had developed coughing and wheezing. Because he had no medication the attack progressed until his capillary blood oxygen saturation was too low to send home.

When I told mom that her son needed to be admitted she immediately proclaimed, ”I don’t want any residents involved with my son. They will ask lots of questions and maybe even try treatments to see if they work!”        

Calmly I sat down with her and explained what the role of the house staff is with hospitalized patients.

  • First they are our right hands in providing observation and care.
  • They never do anything of a questionable nature without checking with us first.
  • They are our eyes and ears for the in-patients.
  • They are critical members of our medical team for early recognition of deterioration.
  • The history and physical they procure is essential for complete hospital charting.
  • Frequently important historical facts are discovered that lead to a diagnosis.

I assured her that the senior pediatric resident has already completed two years of training and is not a neophyte in providing care. A Children’s Hospital would be hard pressed to provide the close care needed without these physicians.  

Remember, a pediatric intern or resident is a medical school graduate with an M.D. degree. They make rounds daily with a medical school faculty pediatrician who monitors their every move.

Mom was grateful for this explanation. She now understood how the residents and interns help patients and what their role is. “One gets the idea from the media that the residents are there only for their education and to experiment on patients. Now I understand that is not correct.”

If you have the misfortune of having your child in a hospital but are fortunate enough to have pediatric residents involved in his or her care, take the time to thank them. They have a very demanding and stressful job.

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