Patient & Visitor Guide

Glossary of Hospital Terms

Here’s a basic primer of medical terms and definitions related to people responsible for your care while you are in the hospital.

Attending physician

A physician that has completed residency and practices medicine in a clinic or hospital, often focusing on the specialty learned during residency. An attending physician can also supervise residents and medical students.


Pertaining to the bedside or clinic. Clinical work involves patient care.

Fellowship training

Postgraduate training for doctors in specialized fields. The training can include clinical (patient care) and research (laboratory) work. Additional training in a specialty which occurs at the conclusion of residency training.


A hospital-based general physician. Hospitalists assume the care of hospitalized patients in the place of patients’ primary care physician.


A physician who specializes in the care of critically ill patients, usually in an intensive care unit.

Medical resident (resident physician)

A person who has received a medical degree and who practices medicine under the supervision of fully licensed physicians, usually in a hospital or clinic.

Non-teaching patients

Patients who are cared for by the attending physician without residents being involved in their care.

Residency training

A period of hospital work involving care of patients after completion of four years of medical school.

Staff physician

Staff physician is a fully credentialed physician who has completed training and is a member of the Medical Dental staff.