COPD Lexicon: Hospital Staff (Folks You’ll Meet in the Hospital)

I work at a small town hospital. Where I work professions are color coded. This makes it nice for patients. Once they know the color scheme, they know who they’re dealing with.

What is a Respiratory Therapist?

Respiratory Therapists. This is me. I wear green scrubs. It’s the same color green associated with oxygen. Oxygen green is respiratory therapist green. We keep you breathing easy. We dole out breathing treatments. We sit and socialize with you while the treatment’s going. You may think, “What an easy job!” But, we have other duties too. Anything to do with the airway will involves one of us. If anyone has trouble breathing, we’re the first ones called (along with doctors).

Doctors. I don’t think I need to tell you what a doctor is. I don’t think they have a uniform color. They dress sharply. They cover their sharp outfits with nice long, clean, white lab coats. They look very professional. In the emergency room they’re called ER docs. On the floors their called hospitalists. In the operating room their called surgeons. Their are also various specialists, such as a cardiologist and cancer doctor. At larger hospitals you’ll see many more doctor specialists than that.

Environmental Services (EVS): Gray scrubs. They are very friendly. I remember when I was a patient in 2007. I was new as an RT at this hospital. A lady came in every day to mop the floor and wipe down the tables. She was very friendly. We had some very nice conversations. Now, 20 years later, you might still see me bantering with her in the hallway. As far as I’m concerned, they have the most important jobs in the hospital. They keep your rooms clean and germ free. They keep the hospital looking good.

How will I know the nurse in the hospital?

Nurses. They wear navy blue scrubs. I don’t think I need to tell you what nurses do either. They are a very important part of the patient care team. They take care of all your needs. They are very caring and thoughtful. But, they are usually very busy. There truly is no rest when you’re a nurse. I suppose, it’s kind of like being a mother.

Nursing Assistants (NA). They wear beige colored scrubs. They are very helpful to the busy nurses. They will assist you any way they can. They are often the first on the scene when you push your nurse call button. They’ll make sure you have plenty of ice water — if you’re allowed to have it. They’ll help you with your basic needs, such as washing up. They are also fun to hang out with.

What is a Monitor Tech?

Monitor Techs. Chances are you won’t see them. Many patients have telemetry hooked up to their chests. These are wires hooked up to a portable telemetry unit. It allows monitor techs to monitor their heart rhythms at all times. I actually think this is the hardest job in the hospital, and perhaps among the most important. They watch the monitors all day. On the monitors are the telemetry strips of all the patients ordered to have them. So, if they see something abnormal, they are on the phone calling nurses. Like NAs, they also wear beige scrubs.

Desk Clerks. They are at every nurses station. They put orders in. They call doctors. They organize charts. They do all of that sort of stuff so nurses don’t have to. They sit in front of computers, and are usually very busy. But, they are also very friendly. Like EVS, they are among the most important behind the scenes people in any hospital setting.

Lab Technician. “Ahh, can I suck your blood?” Yep! The vampires. No, they don’t wear red scrubs. No, they don’t have fangs either. That would sort of be morbid. They wear tan color scrubs.

Managers/Supervisors. They dress up. They take care of the business side of things so we can do our work.

What do X-ray technicians do?

X-Ray Technicians. They wear sky blue scrubs. They take x-rays. I’m sure, if you have COPD, you’ve had a chest -ray taken at some point. If so, then you’ve probably met one of these fine individuals. They also do cat scans and other tests. Basically, they take pictures of your insides to help doctors best diagnose and treat you. 

Physical Therapists. They dress professionally. If you sit in a bed for too long, you’ll get week. If needed, they’ll meet with you once a day. They will help you gain the strength to get back home. They will help you get up and walk. If needed, they’ll set you up with a cane or walker. Their goal is to help you regain or keep up your strength so you can stay active with COPD.

So, this is your hospital staff. These are the fine folks you might see in the hospital. True, you’d rather not see us at all. But, if you need us, we’re here willing and capable of helping you the best we can. And we all wear name badges so you can identify us that way too. 

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