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What is a Teaching Hospital?

medication teaching and learning
medications are studied at teaching hospitals 
teaching hospital

Did you know that there are different types of hospitals? ( teaching hospital, community hospital, long-term care hospital) Does it matter to you or your loved ones what type of hospital you end up going to? If you didn’t, you should. Hospitals come in many varieties, just like cheese. Depending on your needs – from a fiscal standpoint to an emotional and physical standpoint, there is much to be considered when choosing a hospital.

Is a Teaching Hospital Right For You?

One hospital many people are familiar with are teaching hospitals. These are the types of hospitals you mostly see in the media – from the soapy and dramatic Grey’s Anatomy to the hilarious and goofy Scrubs sitcom. Teaching hospitals always partner with a particular medical school. For example, in Arizona, Banner University in downtown Phoenix is associated with University of Arizona Medical School and the Master’s Entry to Nursing Program.  This means that medical students and nursing students from those programs care for patients at that specific hospital.

Pros of a Teaching Hospital:

Teaching hospitals are focused on teaching and learning. They build modern medicine by using their extensive resources for education and research. What does this mean for you as a patient or if you’re someone caring for a loved one in a hospital? Some of the pros include:

  • Research means innovative treatments and procedures
  • Specialized surgeries or experimental medical procedures done by top specialists who are involved with research
  • State-of-the-art equipment and technologies
  • Physicians and surgeons available 24-hours a day

The Cons of a Teaching Hospital:

While there are pros to being a patient in a teaching hospital, there are also cons. Each con should be carefully considered when choosing a surgeon to complete your surgery at a particular hospital.

Invasive or unnecessary diagnostics or treatments

Teaching hospitals have teams of providers including interns, NPs, PAs, and residents. The have more high-tech equipment that is state of the art which pushes clinicians to order unnecessary diagnostics or treatments. Consequently, patients may have more tests ordered than otherwise necessary. These additional tests can be very invasive and cause more problems than they solve.

Cutting edge/progressive treatments or procedures do not always equate to long term effectiveness

Just because something is highly innovative does not always mean that it is effective. An innovative treatment may not be right for your particular situation. Many innovative treatments being used at teaching hospitals are so new that they have not yet been studied or written about in professional journals. This means that they have not yet been proven to provide long term effectiveness. This can be a frustrating issue for patients and families.

Physicians and surgeons available 24-hours a day

I know, I know. This point was listed above in the pros section, so why is it listed here as well? Simply because it is both a pro and a con. Although a patient at a teaching hospital is assured to have a clinician available 24-hours a day, it’s possible that the clinician is a new clinician. The covering clinician maybe an intern who just graduated from medical school 3 months ago. The covering clinician could be a nurse practitioner who has little hands on experience. Unfortunately new clinicians don’t have a lot of experience dealing with an emergency or a specific disease process.

Less privacy

If you’ve ever been to a teaching hospital, you may have experienced a hoard of students following an attending physician. It can feel intimidating to be the center of attention. You may feel strange to have multiple people talk to you or examine you. You just might feel like a lab rat. If you’re modest due to religious reasons or if you feel uncomfortable at all, you can always let the clinicians know that you prefer not having a gaggle of students examine you. You always have a choice on who can examine you. Remember, you also have a choice in not being admitted to a teaching hospital in order to avoid groups of students or teams.

Round-Up:

A teaching hospital is often times the epicenter of innovative and cutting edge treatments. Being a patient at a teaching hospital means that you’ll be receiving care from:

  • Medical Students
  • Residents
  • Physician Assistants
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Specialists
  • Registered Nurses
  • Pharmacist
  • Physical Therapist
  • Dietitians

And many others under the direction of an attending doctor.

Teaching hospitals emphasize research and improvement of healthcare through learning. Most partner with a medical and nursing schools. Teaching hospitals have benefits, both positive and negative, all of which should be carefully considered before being admitted to one. If you’re having a surgery, check which hospital your surgeon is affiliated with. Be sure to take these considerations seriously when making your hospital selection.

Lastly, if you don’t have a healthcare background or a loved one to help you while you’re hospitalized, Navi has nurse advocates to help you in your hospital journey, whether you’re a teaching hospital or not. Get peace of mind with an expert registered nurse by your side.

Love and Best of Health,

Nurse Ayan

Ayan S. MSN, RN, Co-founder, Operations

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