Health Care Provider Staff: Types & Roles

Instructor: Justine Fritzel

Justine has been a Registered Nurse for 10 years and has a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing degree.

In this lesson, we will review a few of the different types of health care providers. We will briefly discuss what their role is and what communication skills are needed in providing care and support to patients and families.

Healthcare Providers

The healthcare industry is made up of many different types of healthcare providers. Most people are familiar with doctors and nurses, but there are many other healthcare providers that assist in caring for patients and families. We will review some of those now.

Primary Care Providers

Most people are familiar with the term physician. They are often times referred to as doctors. Physicians collect health history and perform thorough assessments in order to make a diagnosis. If a patient is hospitalized, the physician provides care to the patient during that time. The physician collaborates with other healthcare providers, such as other specialists and therapists, to ensure the patient has all of their needs met. They provide education to the patient and family and help the patient to navigate through the complex healthcare setting to get their medical needs met. Physicians are responsible for overseeing and managing the patient's entire healthcare needs. Physicians aren't the only choice for a healthcare provider though.


Nurse practitioners are another option that can provide primary care to a patient. A nurse practitioner uses nursing and medical perspectives to manage patients' healthcare needs. They are able to diagnose and treat medical conditions as well as prescribe medications or treatments.

A physician assistant is another healthcare provider that may help to manage your primary care needs. The physician assistant works under the physician so they aren't an independent primary care provider. They are, however, able to collect healthcare history, diagnose, and prescribe tests and medications. These are a few examples of primary care options in the healthcare field, but there are so many more healthcare roles that contribute to providing healthcare to those in need. We will review a few of those now.

Nursing Assistants

If you walk into any healthcare facility, it is very likely you will see nursing assistants hard at work. Nursing assistants are often referred to as C.N.A.s, Certified Nursing Assistants. CNAs go through training and have to take a state test in order to obtain their license to be certified. CNAs work in care facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes, but they also provide care in home settings, as well as various other roles. They assist patients with personal care needs such as bathing, toileting, eating, transferring and positioning. CNAs also take vital signs and do other work as delegated by the nurse. CNAs work closely with the nurse, and they report any issues or changes to the nurse to address. What about other departments in the hospital- who may be working there?

Laboratory Technician

Blood draw

Have you ever had blood drawn and wondered how things work behind the scenes in the lab? When a healthcare provider orders labs, it's the laboratory technician that works behind the scenes to run tests on the sample. They use microscopes, computers, and other advanced technology to evaluate the sample and determine any abnormalities. They communicate the results to the healthcare provider that ordered the labs, and the healthcare provider will determine any interventions needed based on the results.

Radiology Technician

xray hand

If you have ever broken a bone, you probably visited the radiology department. A radiology technician specializes in the use of imaging equipment, such as x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. The radiology technician guides the patient through the imaging procedures. These images are then reviewed by a physician to help make a diagnosis. The radiology technician is specially trained in order to produce high-quality images, but they are also vital in helping to support the patient in a stressful and scary time.

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