Your Health Care Team
There are many people who help care for you when you have heart surgery. Each member of
your health care team has a special role in your care. The focus of each member of your team is
you. Like the picture below, you are the center of attention. Please read on for more information
about your team members.
Your surgeon is the doctor who is doing your surgery. Your surgeon directs your care to meet
your needs and leads your health care team members.
Your family members and friends are important members of your team. Supporting you and
your loved ones is the focus of each of your health care team members. When you think of ideas
about how your health care team members can help you or your loved ones, please share those
ideas with a member of your health care team.
Nurses and nursing assistants are the members of your health care team who help you with
your daily care while you are in the hospital. Nurses are the primary team members who provide
care for you while you are in the Cardiothoracic Surgery Unit. They help you with your
medicines, educate you and your family, and work closely with the other members of your health
care team. Nurses also do assessments during the day and night for your safety. They share the
information they gather with your other team members. Nursing assistants help you with care
such as eating and bathing.
Your anesthesiologist is the doctor who provides anesthesia and care for you during your
The critical care team is a doctor who cares for critically ill patients. They will work with your
surgeon to guide your care while you are in the intensive and intermediate care.
The advanced practice provider team is made up of nurse practitioners and physician’s
assistants. They work closely with your surgeon and you. The midlevel team works with you
from the time of your first work-up visit through your last follow-up visit.
A case manager or social worker is a team member who helps you with any special needs you
may have as you prepare to go home. These needs may include lab draws, home health, or rehab
Physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) will see most patients after surgery to
make sure they can get in/out of bed after the special precautions required after open heart
surgery. They will help you gain muscle strength.
A person from the Cardiac Rehab department works with you after your surgery to help you
start your cardiac rehab program. This person talks with you about safe activities you may do
after surgery and lifestyle changes. He or she also refers you to a cardiac rehab program near
your home so you can keep doing your rehab after discharge.
Respiratory Therapist is a member of the health care team who helps you keep your lungs
healthy. They help people breathe by using many machines and devices. They provide inhaled
medicines and assist you with treatments that clear mucous from the lungs. They educate you
and your family and work closely with the other members of your health care team.
The Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) is a nurse who is an expert in the surgery you had. The
CNS educates the staff so they can provide the best care for you. She is a resource to you and
Fellows and residents are the doctors who work in cardiac surgery as part of their training.
Fellows are surgeons who have finished their general surgery training. They are doing training
in cardiac surgery. Residents are doctors who are doing their general surgery training.
Pharmacists have special training in medicines. There are pharmacists on the cardiac surgery
unit who make sure your medicines are correct, safe, and work as they should.
Technicians or techs (lab, x-ray, EKG) make sure your health care team members have the
information they need to care for you. The lab techs (phlebotomists) draw your blood. The
x-ray techs take x-rays of you, most often your chest. The EKG techs attach the EKG patches to
check your heart rhythm.
Consult services may include diabetes management and kidney doctors (for some patients).
Your surgeon works with the consult services that meet your special needs.
Support staff includes administrative staff (the surgeon’s secretary, the Cardiothoracic Surgery
Unit secretary) and management (nurse manager of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Unit). Your
surgeon’s secretary may help you schedule some tests and appointments. He or she may also
help you fill out Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) papers or disability paperwork. The
unit secretary helps with the daily work on the hospital unit. This includes answering the phones
and arranging for any tests you need while in the hospital. The nurse manager of the unit works
to keep the unit running smoothly. He or she is another team member who can help if you have
questions or concerns.
Housekeeping and maintenance staff work to keep the hospital and its equipment in good
condition. Housekeeping staff work to keep your room and the rest of the hospital clean.
Maintenance staff work to keep all equipment at the hospital working properly.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 3/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7250