What is a Hospital?
A hospital is a healthcare facility that provides around-the-clock medical care and attention to patients in need. Hospitals have medical experts who monitor patients, perform tests and procedures, administer medications, and tend to any health issues that arise.
Patients can stay at the hospital overnight or for extended periods of time while receiving continual care and observation. Hospitals offer services like emergency room care, surgery, intensive care, labor and delivery services, imaging and lab work, and more.
Whether it is dealing with an unexpected injury, chronic disease, childbirth, or any other medical situation that requires dedicated providers and equipment, a hospital has the staff and resources available to diagnose, treat, and support recovery.
Common Hospital Staff
How Do I Work in a Hospital?
First, identify which hospital roles match your skills and interests. Research education requirements for clinical and non-clinical career paths that appeal to you.
Next, gain relevant healthcare experience by volunteering or interning while working towards academic and licensing qualifications. Build capabilities in areas like electronic records, healthcare software, insurance practices, and patient experience protocols.
Afterward, apply for open hospital positions you feel prepared for. Highlight communication abilities, compassion, critical thinking, and relevant hard skills. Be ready to manage fast-paced environments, work longer shifts, collaborate across departments and follow strict protocols.
Lastly, grow your expertise over time through on-the-job training, certification courses and vying for progressive roles. Consider specialized medicine, technology and administration positions as you advance your hospital career. Remain patient-focused while excelling professionally.
Types of Hospitals
The United States has over 5,000 hospitals spanning general community hospitals, teaching hospitals with research and training programs, federal hospitals for military and veterans, mental health hospitals, long-term rehabilitative hospitals, and various specialty hospitals.
Community hospitals make up the largest share of hospitals in the United States. They range greatly in size and services, with some having less than 10 beds while others have over 500 beds. Most provide comprehensive medical and surgical care covering all specialties.
Some concentrate specifically on areas like orthopedics, trauma treatment, cancer care, or maternity services based on the needs of their local patient population. Community hospitals operate independently without federal funding, relying on payments from private insurance plans, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Specialty hospitals center their facilities, equipment, staff expertise, and treatment plans around serving patients with specific conditions or undergoing focused types of care. Some examples include cancer hospitals, heart hospitals, orthopedic and surgery centers, children’s hospitals, burn recovery units, physical rehabilitation centers, psychiatric hospitals, geriatric care facilities, women’s health clinics, and more.
Specialized hospitals are equipped to provide targeted, efficient care calibrated to the medical issues faced by particular patient categories.
Teaching hospitals not only deliver patient care but also provide medical training and conduct research through affiliations with university medical schools. They train medical students, residents, fellows, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Many run specialty residency and fellowship programs.
Teaching hospital staff dual-function as clinicians and academics who teach and research alongside caring for patients. The major research activity in teaching hospitals also brings in funding and facilitates clinical trials and access to the latest medical innovations.
The federal government administers over 200 hospitals nationwide through agencies like the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Public Health Service, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Defense.
These federally-funded facilities provide care to specialized populations covered under various federal health programs, such as military members and families, veterans receiving VA benefits, merchant marines, prison inmates, uninsured miners, and others.
Non-teaching hospitals focus exclusively on delivering patient care without operating academic medicine or research programs. However, they still host experienced medical staff across all specialties to facilitate quality treatment.
Many non-teaching hospitals offer comprehensive services in areas like emergency medicine, surgery, cardiology, orthopedics, cancer care, and more to serve community health needs. Some concentrate on specific service lines similar to specialty hospitals. Non-teaching facilities function solely as clinical care institutions without the education, research, and funding components of teaching hospitals.
Mental Health Hospitals
Mental health hospitals serve patients requiring inpatient psychiatric treatment and crisis stabilization. Patients suffer from conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder who pose a danger to themselves or others. Services include psychiatric diagnosis, individual and group therapy, medication management, detox programs, and discharge planning.
The average length of acute mental health hospital stays ranges from 7-10 days. Some facilities specialize in areas like addiction, eating disorders, or adolescent mental health. Long-term care state psychiatric institutions also exist for difficult-to-place patients.
Long-term Care Hospitals
Long-term acute care (LTAC) hospitals treat patients with complex medical needs who require extended hospitalization and care. The average LTAC stay ranges from 25-30 days. Patients transfer from intensive care units once stabilized, but still too clinically unstable to be discharged home or to a nursing home.
LTAC hospital services include respiratory therapy, complex wound management, IV medication administration, dialysis, and post-ICU rehabilitative therapies. Goals involve transitioning patients to be able to leave the LTAC for lower levels of care.
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