Typical members of your health care team may include: Medical Doctors Nurses Inter-disciplinary Team Members


matt9_02_17Primary Oncologists

A doctor specializing in cancer who is in charge of and responsible for your care, sometimes working in a team with other oncologists. This physician stays in communication with your primary care pediatrician or physician.

Attending Physician

One of a team of doctors responsible for your care. In your hospital, a team of oncologists may work together to care for you on rotating schedules. You may have a primary oncologist but still be seen by other attending physicians while you are in the hospital or clinic. Don’t worry – in most hospitals all the doctors work as a team and constantly share information about how you are doing and what you need.

Radiation Oncologist

A doctor who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer. This physician often puts together your radiation treatment plan and may be responsible for your scans and x-rays.


A doctor who performs operations. You may have different types of surgeons involved in your care for different reasons. For example, a general surgeon may insert your central catheter; an orthopedic surgeon may be involved if you have bone cancer; a neurosurgeon may remove your brain tumor, etc.

Oncology Fellow

A doctor who has finished residency training and doing additional training to become a specialist in oncology. A fellow is a fully certified physician who works closely with the attending physicians to make decisions regarding your treatment. The fellow sometimes has more time than your primary doctor to really talk about things that concern you.


A doctor who has graduated from medical school and is getting more clinical training in the hospital before becoming fully certified. Residents rotate through several specialty areas including oncology, and work with your other doctors. The residents you see in the hospital will change when their rotations end. This is sometimes annoying because you are always seeing new faces during rounds who may not know your medical history. Try to be patient – we all have to learn somewhere.


A doctor who specializes in giving medicines or other agents that prevent or relieve pain, especially during surgery. An anesthesiologist will always be part of your team when you have surgery. For some procedures like bone marrow biopsies, an anesthesiologist may administer some type of anesthesia and monitor your body functions.


A medical doctor that specializes in providing psychotherapy, or general psychological help. Because they are medical doctors, psychiatrists can also prescribe medication, such as antidepressants or medication to help you sleep.


A physician with advanced training in diagnosing diseases by interpreting X-rays and other types of imaging studies, for example, CT scans and MRI’s.


Nurse Practitioner or Advanced Practice Nurse

A registered nurse with additional education and clinical training in Oncology. Nurse Practitioners work with your doctors and do many things including: performing physical examinations and procedures, diagnosing patient problems, ordering labs, tests, and medications and teaching you about issues related to your care. In some hospitals, you may spend much more time with your nurse practitioner than your doctor. Nurse practitioners usually wear white lab coats like the docs, and not scrubs like the other nurses.

Staff Nurse

A registered nurse who provides the care you require both while you are in the hospital and as an outpatient in the Clinic. The nurse may draw your blood, administer chemotherapy and/or medications, teach you about your cancer and treatment, and help arrange follow-up.

Nursing Aides, Patient Care Technicians

The aides in your hospital may have one of several different titles, but they probably all do essentially the same jobs. They often check vitals: blood pressure, temperature, pulse, etc. – and usually have the dubious honor of checking the levels of bodily wastes that you leave behind for closer examination. They might also do things like change your linens, bring in your food trays, and take care of minor problems.


jan02a67Social Worker

A trained professional who helps you and your family adjust to your illness, access hospital and community resources and deal with problems. Sometimes you may not feel like talking with the social worker about things that are on your mind They always want to know “How are you feeling?” It’s OK if you don’t want to talk. If you do, they’re available.

Child Life Specialist

A child development expert who offers age-appropriate activities to help meet your social and emotional needs. In some hospitals, child life specialists supervise activity rooms, coordinate activities and help you deal with difficult procedures and treatments.

Clinical Psychologist

A therapist skilled in administering tests to determine at what level you are functioning intellectually and emotionally. Psychologists can help if you are feeling depressed or sad or having problems dealing with your disease. Psychologists are not medical doctors but have a doctoral degree in psychology and counseling and are referred to as Dr.


Registered dieticians are knowledgeable about the nutritional needs of oncology patients. They are nutrition experts who evaluate eating patterns and problems and recommend nutritional options. When you are going through various treatments (chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, etc.) you may not feel like eating. The nutritionist can help you keep your strength up which is very important during treatment.


Members of the clergy (ministers, priests, rabbis, etc.) who are available to help you with your spiritual issues, concerns or needs. Physical, Occupational, Speech, and Respiratory Therapists Individuals with advanced training in their specialty area who may help you with specific problems related to your cancer or its treatment.


Individuals who draw your blood when you do not have a central venous catheter like a Broviac or medi-port. Back to top