Benefits of Care at an Academic Medical Center

Why do UW Health physicians participate in medical education of students, residents and fellows? How might that affect my care?
Our physicians have three primary missions: patient care, research and teaching. UW Health physicians are faculty members of the world-renowned University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Faculty physicians provide direct patient care and often participate in leading-edge research to improve medical care.
Our physicians serve as teachers and mentors for medical students and residents to train the next generation of doctors.
UW Health physicians work with medical students, residents and fellows in clinics and hospitals. A faculty physician leads the health care team attending to each patient. These teams often include doctors in training, as well as nurses, physician assistants and other health care professionals. All decisions about your care are made by you and your physician.
Our patients benefit from this team approach. The emphasis on education and training means careful consideration in both routine and critical cases. Because of their involvement in research, our physicians have knowledge of the latest treatment options and excel in preventive medicine. They bring together innovations and nationally recognized experience to provide you the best care.
Is UW Hospital a teaching hospital? What does that mean for me as a patient?
UW Hospital and Clinics is one of the nation's leading teaching hospitals, providing top-quality patient care while serving as a training site for people studying for careers in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, social work, nutrition and other health fields.
During a visit to UW Hospital and Clinics, a patient's health care team is led by an experienced UW School of Medicine and Public Health faculty physician and may also include students or professionals in training. All students work closely with hospital staff to ensure that you receive the best care.
We encourage you to ask the members of the team what their roles are in your care. Receiving care at a teaching hospital has many advantages, including advanced techniques and treatments.
Is a medical student qualified to provide care?
Medical students have completed four years of college and are in the process of finishing four years of medical school. They are not yet physicians and do not make decisions regarding patient care. They may be involved with obtaining laboratory tests and X-ray results for their supervising physicians. They may speak with you and convey information to your doctor.
What is the difference between a medical student and a resident?
Medical students are still attending medical school. Residents have completed medical school and are physicians. Residents are gaining additional training in a field of specialized medicine, such as pediatrics or surgery. Because of their education and experience, residents can make some decisions regarding patient care and perform minor procedures without direct supervision. They generally are overseen by an attending physician.
How long do residents stay with UW Health?
Residents may stay in a UW Health residency program for three to seven years, depending upon their specialty.
What is a fellow? What does a fellow do?
Fellows are physicians who have completed a residency and are now training to become subspecialists, such as cardiologists (heart specialists) or oncologists (cancer specialists). Fellows also work under the supervision of attending faculty physicians, but because they are trained specialists, they have greater independence than residents. Fellowships range from one year to three years, depending on the specialty.
Can I opt not to be treated or seen by a student, resident or fellow?
All of your medical care choices, including care with students, residents and fellows, are between you and your physician. One of our missions is to provide students, residents and fellows with as much patient contact as possible to prepare them as medical professionals.
Although residents and fellows may have less experience, they are receiving education in state-of-the-art care from a variety of top-rate teaching physicians. If you have concerns about the care you receive, please discuss them with your physician.