Patient Resources

Your Health Care Team

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UT Southwestern has adopted a multidisciplinary team approach to best serve our patients and their families in an increasingly complex health care world. You will benefit from the expertise of highly skilled clinicians and other health care providers from various medical disciplines who are committed to providing you with exceptional care.

At UT Southwestern, we have a collaborative team that includes attending physicians, advanced practice providers, fellows, residents, nurses, social workers, case managers, therapists, medical office assistants, and many others, including medical school students in training.

Attending Physician

Your attending physician is the medical doctor who is responsible for your overall care in the clinic and/or hospital. The “attending” has completed medical school and postgraduate training that permits him or her to be board certified in an area of clinical expertise such as internal medicine, surgery, cardiology, etc. Because UT Southwestern is an academic medical center, the attending physician also supervises and teaches medical students, residents, and fellows – all of whom may be part of your care team.

Advanced Practice Providers

Advanced practice providers (or APPs) are composed of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and physician assistants (PAs) who have obtained graduate-level degrees with a focus in clinical practice. APPs are required to pass national certification exams and hold a license to practice. APPs may diagnose medical conditions, perform procedures, assist with surgery, order tests, and prescribe medications. They work collaboratively with attending physicians to ensure the best care possible. For more information, please see our FAQs about advanced practice providers.

Fellows and Residents

A fellow is a physician who has completed medical school and residency training and is pursuing further specialty training in a focused area. A resident is a physician who has graduated from medical school and is currently in a postgraduate training program. The length of fellowships and residencies depends on the clinical specialty. The attending physician is ultimately responsible for and oversees the care delivered by fellows and residents.

Nurses

Nurses are found in many locations across the UT Southwestern campus, including our hospital and clinics. Depending on the setting, nurses have many important responsibilities, including obtaining health histories, performing physical exams, coordinating care, administering medications, and providing health promotion, counseling, and education.

Medical Students

During your visit at UT Southwestern, medical students may be involved in your care. These students, as part of their educational program, may document your medical history, perform examinations, and assist the attending physician. Medical students in the hospital and clinic settings are supervised at all times by attending physicians, fellows, and/or residents.

Social Workers

Social workers are key members of the health care team who provide support and guidance to patients and families on addressing the financial, social, and emotional challenges related to illness or hospitalization. They can assist with arrangements for home health services, medical equipment, outpatient therapies, and referral to community agencies.

Therapists

Therapists are available in a variety of UT Southwestern settings and have specialized training in various areas to support you in your recovery. Examples of therapists include physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and respiratory therapists.

Medical Office Assistants

Medical office assistants, commonly referred to as CMOAs at UT Southwestern, perform a variety of administrative and clinical duties to support patients and families throughout their UT Southwestern outpatient site visit. These duties may include preparing you for your visit by collecting health information, such as your medical history and vital signs. Medical office assistants may also administer injections or assist with treatments under the direction of your health care provider.

FAQs about Advanced Practice Providers:

What are Advanced Practice Providers?

Advanced practice providers (APPs) include advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and physician assistants (PAs) who have obtained graduate-level degrees with a focus in clinical practice. APPs are required to pass national certification exams, hold a license to practice, and receive continuing education credits annually. Additionally, APPs have specialized training in their area of expertise. They have the skills, knowledge, and decision-making ability needed to ensure the best care possible.

Why am I seeing an APP instead of a physician?

To best serve our patients, UT Southwestern has adopted a multidisciplinary team approach for the management of your care. This involves a collaborative process in which you will benefit from a team of physicians, advanced practice providers, nurses, medical assistants, fellows, residents, medical students, and clinical support staff. Patients can expect to interact with most or all members of the team at some point. In most instances, our patients see the physician in a rotation with the APP.

Can an APP prescribe medications? What about narcotics and other Drug Enforcement Agency controlled substances?

Yes. While the rules and regulations vary by state, APPs at UT Southwestern can prescribe most medications. Certain medications, including some narcotics (e.g., oxycodone) and stimulants (e.g., methylphenidate), require a prescription from a physician.

Can APPs diagnose and treat conditions?

Yes. APPs at UT Southwestern play an integral role in diagnosing and treating a variety of conditions in collaboration with physicians and the rest of the care team.

Can APPs perform procedures?

Yes. Many of the APPs at UT Southwestern perform procedures or assist in the operating room.