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Behind the doctors and the nurses in medical facilities

This interview is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment, hosted by Lori Walsh.

Prairie Doc® Perspectives for week of February 6, 2022
The Entire Cast and Crew
By Jill Kruse, D.O.

When you watch a medical drama on television the main characters are generally doctors, nurses, and patients. We rarely learn about the many extras in the background. In an actual hospital, patients are cared for by their doctors and nurses, along with a large supporting cast and crew. Many of these people on stage and behind the scenes rarely get their name in lights. I would like to introduce them now.

Before a patient arrives at the hospital, we often rely on emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and transport teams to safely bring them to the hospital via ground ambulance, helicopter, and airplane.

Once the patient reaches their hospital room, those providing direct patient care include nursing assistants and patient care techs. They literally do much of the heavy lifting in the hospital. There is an entire team of therapists including physical, occupational, speech, and respiratory therapists who play a role in developing a rehabilitation plan for each patient. Wound care nurses help manage complex wounds and ostomies. Various radiology techs, phlebotomists and lab staff help administer the tests needed to diagnose patients.

Some play the role of teacher at the hospital. Dieticians, pharmacists, and diabetic educators help patients learn about their conditions, medications, and behaviors that can help them live healthier lives. Social workers and case management teams arrange after care plans including social supports, which take effect when the patient is discharged. Many hospitals have palliative care teams and hospice teams whose primary goal is reducing suffering and easing pain. Pastoral care teams help with emotional and spiritual support for patients and their family.

We perform our jobs in a clean, healthy environment thanks to the dietary and kitchen staff, maintenance crew, and housekeeping team. Without them we would be hungry, thirsty, and cold, without clean sheets, gowns, and towels.

Information Technology departments maintain patient portals and electronic medical record systems giving patients and their care teams access to essential information. Billing, coding, and insurance filers ensure the patient data entered is accurate and timely. And there are many others I won’t have the time to mention here.

As a hospitalist, I’m a big fan. I get to work with these professionals every day and each of them is a star of the show in my opinion. Television and movies may give doctors and nurses all the attention, but I hope I’ve successfully turned the spotlight on the entire cast and crew doing their part for a successful patient story. I hope you join the fan club!

Jill Kruse, D.O. is part of The Prairie Doc® team of physicians and currently practices as a hospitalist in Brookings, South Dakota. Follow The Prairie Doc® at and on Facebook featuring On Call with the Prairie Doc®, a medical Q&A show celebrating its twentieth season of truthful, tested, and timely medical information, broadcast on SDPB and streaming live on Facebook most Thursdays at 7 p.m. central.