Your child receives care from a team of specialists. They are experts in all aspects of treating childhood cancers. They know about treatment plans, emergency care, care of side effects, and preventive medicine. They can also offer support and education to you and your family. Members of your care team include:
Your child’s doctor is called an attending physician. The attending physician is an experienced specialist in medicine for children (pediatrics), hematology (blood), and cancer (oncology). A doctor who specializes in treatment for cancer is called an oncologist. The pediatric oncologist is the head of your child’s care team. There are several attending doctors in the service line that may be involved in your child’s care.
A fellow is a licensed pediatric doctor who has completed medical school and residency and is now completing specialty training. The fellows that will work with your child are getting specialty training in the care of children with cancer (oncology) or blood disorders (hematology). Fellows train in these specialty areas for three additional years after completing a pediatric residency. The attending doctor teaches the fellows and oversees all of the care that is provided.
A resident has completed medical school and earned the title of doctor. Residents from the University of Utah Medical Center work in teams to provide care for children at Primary Children’s Medical Center. They are learning to care for children as part of their training as pediatricians. Residents work under the direction of the fellows and attending doctors.
Integrative Medicine Physician
Integrative medicine combines complementary healing approaches, such as aromatherapy, herbs, muscle relaxation and breathing techniques with traditional medicine to relieve pain, anxiety and other side-effects/symptoms in children.
Nurse Practitioner (NP)
A nurse practitioner (NP) is a nurse with an advanced degree in nursing. These nurses are trained to do physical exams and procedures, write prescriptions, oversee daily care of patients in clinic or in the hospital, and coordinate care for each patient. The NP’s that you will meet are trained specifically to care for oncology patients. Nurse practitioners work under the direction of the attending doctor.
Primary Care Physician
Your primary care physician or the doctor who recommended that your child be seen by cancer specialists will be contacted once a definite diagnosis is made. A letter that outlines your child’s needs and treatment plan will be sent to your doctor. Then we will continue to send regular updates. Generally, a letter is sent after each inpatient admission or every three months when your child is seen in the clinic. When your child completes therapy, a final letter will be sent to your doctor. For these reasons, it is important for you to let us know if you change family doctors.
Your child’s doctor will continue to see your child for runny noses, sore throats, skin rashes, etc., unless the illness is related to cancer treatment. If you live a great distance from Primary Children's, your child’s doctor becomes our eyes and ears for your child’s care. It is difficult to tell if you should be concerned about a change in your child’s health when we communicate over the telephone. We will often ask your child’s doctor to see your child and call us if there is any concern.
Service Line Director, Nursing Managers, and Charge Nurses
The service line director is in charge of all the employees and programs throughout the service line. Nursing managers are the direct supervisors of the nurses in either the inpatient unit or the outpatient clinic. The managers and director work closely together to assure adequate staffing and quality care.
Charge nurses take care of the day-to-day operations within the inpatient unit or the clinic. They help direct the flow of patients and the nurses’ assignments to assure that all patient care needs are met.
Registered Nurses (RN)
A registered nurse has a degree in nursing and has passed a licensing examination. The nurses in the Hematology/Oncology/ Transplant service line at Primary Children's also have training to work with children who have cancer or blood disorders. All nurses who administer chemotherapy have taken a class and passed a test from the national Association of Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurses (APHON) to assure that they are trained to safely give chemotherapy to infants, children and adolescents.
Nurses check your child frequently. Nurses in the inpatient unit check vital signs (which include temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure) every four hours or more often if the patient's condition requires more frequent checks.
The inpatient nurses at Primary Children’s usually work in 12-hour shifts. The shifts change at 7:00 am and 7:00 pm. During the change of shifts, nurses coming to work discuss issues related to your child’s care with the nurses who are leaving so everyone is aware of your child’s condition. We ask families/visitors to stay in their rooms during this time to protect the privacy of our patients.
The nurses in the clinic work during clinic hours Monday through Friday. These nurses will also check your child frequently as they assist with procedures, give medicines, or teach you how to care for your child when you are at home.
Certified Nursing Aid (CNA)/Patient Care Tech (PCT)
A CNA or Tech has completed a certificate program and has passed a licensing exam to be a nurse extender. CNAs/PCTs can take vital signs, help with bath and linen changes, transport patients, stock supplies, and perform other duties to assist the nurse with patient care. Everything a CNA/PCT does is under the direction of the RN.
A discharge planner is a nurse who coordinates and communicates with members of the complete care team, including you and home care services, to assure that you will have the supplies and support you need to care for your child at home. They will help to set up home care and suggest companies that your insurance company will pay for. The service line has a designated Discharge Planner to assist with this process.
Care Coordinators are Registered Nurses who help manage the care of a specific group of patients. Examples of Coordinators include Chemotherapy Admissions Coordinators, Brain Tumor Coordinators, Bone Marrow Transplant Coordinators.
The nurses work with the medical team, family, home care agencies, and other hospital departments to coordinate care. This may include items such as arranging hospital admissions, scheduling procedures or scans, and monitoring the progress of patients when at home.
The social workers on your child’s care team have earned an advanced degree in social work and are experts in the psychological and social effects of cancer on the family. They can help you through a crisis or day-to-day problems with family, school, or work. Social workers can also point you to additional community resources. The goal of these team members is to help your family cope with financial, social, or psychological problems. The social worker can also assist you to meet with a financial counselor from Primary Children's Medical Center.
Child Life Specialists
Child life specialists are skilled professionals with a bachelor’s degree or higher and have earned a certificate in the care of hospitalized children. Child life specialists meet the developmental needs of patients and families in healthcare settings. Through age-appropriate activities and interactions, children are encouraged to express their fears, angers, and concerns. Child life specialists also prepare patients and families for procedures and help them cope with their healthcare experiences.
A dietitian has a college degree and is an expert in nutrition for children with illness. The dietitian watches your child’s weight, height, and other growth measures during treatment and can talk with you about improving your child’s nutrition.
Parent Support Coordinator
The parent support coordinator is a parent of a child who has had cancer. The Parent Support Coordinator can meet you and provide support. The coordinator also can get you in contact with other families of children with cancer. It can be helpful to talk with other parents who have had similar experiences.
The clinic secretary answers phone calls, relays messages, checks insurance coverage and authorization, schedules appointments, and does other general information tasks.
Environmental Services Staff
An experienced and trained housekeeper visits your child’s hospital room every day to clean. If a housekeeper is needed more frequently, please tell your child’s nurses. The housekeeper also keeps the halls and restrooms clean and ready for use.
For more information about other care team members click the link below: