The Anatomy of a Teaching Hospital

Learn the Responsibilities of Each Doc-In-Training

When a patient is admitted to the hospital, the idea of being in a medical environment can be unnerving. That person may be wondering, who are all of these doctors in my room?

In a teaching hospital, like Scott & White, there are varying degrees of doctors- in-training, all working toward the goal of quality patient care.

Medical Students

These docs-to-be have not yet finished their training to become a doctor, but have had two years of medical schooling in a classroom and laboratory environment, preparing them for work with actual patients.


When the medical student has finished four years of under graduate work and four years of medical school, they are now considered a doctor. However, they are still not permitted to practice medicine on their own.

These new graduates pick a specialty like internal medicine, family practice or pediatrics and work under a attending physician who will teach them the intricate details of their specialized interest.

Residency usually takes three to five years to complete. Surgical and OBGYN residencies could take longer because the doctor must be proficient on technical and surgical procedures.

Residents often see patients more frequently than their staff physicians.

Seeing patients

The resident will go into a patient’s room, evaluate their medical condition and then discuss their findings with the attending physician. The supervisor then determines if he needs to see the patient or not.

It all depends on if they are on a special team, what year they are in their training and what insurance the patient has. Some insurance companies require an attending physician to be present.

“Even if they are going in the room independently, senior staff are always around and evaluating their work,” said Steven Sibbitt, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Scott & White Hospital – Temple. “The way residents learn how to be doctors is by seeing patients.”

Accreditation and Documenting Hours Worked

The Scott & White residency program is accredited through the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The program must follow strict guidelines on the education and treatment of residents.

ACGME regulates how many hours the residents work by auditing their documented hours.

“They don’t punch a clock or fill out a time cared, but they do have to keep track of the hours they are working,” Dr. Sibbitt said. “Every so often an [ACGME] officer will send an e-mail to residents and they have to answer questions about the number of hours they’ve worked.”


When a resident has completed his training, he could go on to further his knowledge in a specific field by participating in a fellowship.

The specialized program usually takes two to three years to complete.

Attending Physician

All of these doctors with varying degrees of experience need a seasoned authority to look over their work, be there to answer questions and to ultimately make the final call when it comes to patient care.

The attending physicians make sure the medical students, residents and fellows are practicing their skills safely and effectively, while maintaining proper patient care. There is supervision of these medical newbies at all times.

Why choose a teaching hospital?

U.S. News and World Report evaluated almost 5,000 hospitals to rank the best in 16 adult specialties from cancer to urology. Death rates, patient safety, and reputation with more than 9,000 specialties went into the 2010-11 ratings.

The top three ranking hospitals in the specialties of cancer, heart surgery and rehabilitation were teaching hospitals.

Dr. Sibbitt said the reason for these findings is that more eyes on the patient equals more attention to detail and more time trying to find the right method of treatment.

About the author

Jessa McClure
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Jessa McClure holds a degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, TX, where she is currently an adviser for student publications. She has been a writer in the health care field since 2009.

2 thoughts on “The Anatomy of a Teaching Hospital”

  1. Thanks for commenting Christina!

    Where are you at in your current training? Resident, fellow, medical student, etc.? This will let us know who your best contact will be.

    Thanks again.

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The Anatomy of a Teaching Hospital