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What is an Attending Physician?

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After completing and graduating from a residency program which can last between three and eight years depending on the specialization, the medical practitioner in know as an attending physician and works in a clinic or hospital. An attending physician may also have an academic title (such as professor) at a university where he or she may be supervising medical students. The term attending physician indicates the relationship between the doctor and the hospital or clinic patient in that the attending physician is the primary doctor, whereas ancillary physicians assist the attending physician.

Career Demands upon an Attending Physician

The role of attending physician is very demanding. Doctors often work between 60-70 hours per week and even when they are out of the hospital or clinic they are often on call. There are however advantages to the position such as lasting job security, high salary, rewarding career and respect and recognition.

The Role of an Attending Physician

The attending physician is responsible for a number of duties including:

Assessing and treating hospital or clinic patients

An attending physician is responsible for treating patients in the hospital or clinic where he or she is practicing medicine. This includes taking the patient’s medical history, performing physical examinations, diagnosing problems and prescribing treatments.

Observation and assessment of resident doctors

Residents should be observed regularly during rounds at the patient’s bedside and in outpatient setting on a regular basis. Their medical understanding should be assessed through case presentations and discussions. The attending physician should also ensure that each resident has good interpersonal skills, is able to make sound clinical decisions and has technical proficiency.

Review aims and objectives

The attending physician should be aware of the rotation of medical teams and what their learning aims are during their time on rotation.

Feedback

The attending physician should give residents constructive feedback at the mid point and the end of the rotation. The residence performance should be evaluated based on how professional their behavior is, their reporting skills, their interpretation skills, management skills and ability to both self-educate and teach.

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