UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital is a Teaching Hospital

A teaching hospital trains medical students, residents, fellows, nurses and other medical professionals. This means that, in almost every setting, a team cares for your child. On each team, there is always an attending doctor who is supervising the team and involved in every step of your child’s care.

Your child’s care team will include many health care workers and staff members. Your child will see their primary care team and may also see a consulting team. Every member of your child’s care team is dedicated to providing your child, you and your family with the highest quality of care.

Primary team

The primary team is the team in charge of your child’s care. They will keep the “big picture” in mind to care for your child's well-being. The doctors on each primary team change every 1-2 weeks, so depending on how long your child stays in the hospital, you may have several teams of doctors. The doctors tell each other all about your child before they change, so the team is always well-informed about your child’s care plan.

  • In the NICU, the primary team is called the NICU or Neonatology team.
  • In the PICU, the primary team is called the PICU or Intensive Care team.
  • On the general pediatrics floor, the primary team is called the pediatrics or hospital medicine team.

Specialty Primary Teams

Some patients with specific medical conditions will be admitted to a specialty primary team instead of a general pediatrics primary team. These patients may include those under the care of the hematology/oncology, surgery, orthopaedic surgery, plastic surgery, trauma surgery, ENT, gastroenterology, cardiology and transplant teams. Other specialty service teams may be brought in for consultation on a specific issue, but the overall plan of treatment and care for your child will be coordinated by the specialty primary team.

Consulting teams

Primary teams often call on other consulting doctors to give advice on different medical problems your child may have. Depending on your child’s needs, some consulting teams will see your child only once, while others keep checking in. Here are some examples:

  • If a child has a seizure, the primary team might call in the neurology team. 
  • If a child has an infection, the primary team might call in the infectious disease team. 
  • If a child is struggling with depression, the primary team might call in the psychology or psychiatry teams.

Specific members of a child’s primary team include : 


  • Attending physician: Physician who oversees your child’s care and supervises the residents, fellows and medical students caring for your child. Attending physicians may change during your child’s stay in the hospital. You may also hear the attending physician referred to as a supervising doctor or other titles depending on which unit your child is admitted to. In the NICU, the attending is also called a neonatologist. In the PICU, the attending is also called an intensivist. On the general pediatrics floor, the attending is also called a hospitalist.
  • Fellow: Licensed pediatrician who is training in a pediatric specialty field. Many specialized pediatric services include fellows who will take a role in helping plan and communicate your child’s treatment plan. Fellows may change during your child’s stay.
  • Resident: Licensed doctor who is training to become a pediatrician. An intern is another name for a first-year resident. Residents are an integral part of the medical team that cares for your child. They will have the most contact with you and your child. Attending physicians rely on information gathered by residents when making decisions about your child’s treatment. They will examine your child every morning, give daily orders for care and update the care team about your child’s progress. 
  • Medical student: UCLA medical students may examine your child in the morning and take part in rounds with residents and the attending doctor.
Mattel Hospital Child Patient Heirarchy


  • Charge nurse: Registered nurse who plans, coordinates and delivers care for each shift.
  • Nurse practitioner (NP): Registered nurse with advanced education and training who practices independently and works closely with doctors. Nurse practitioners diagnose, treat and teach patients and families about medical conditions.
  • Registered nurse/bedside nurse (RN): Provides and coordinates most of your child’s daily care and education. They are your main contact with other members of the health care team. Your child’s nurse will often have more than one patient to care for at a time. Nurses usually work in 12-hour shifts. Shifts change at 7 am and 7 pm, and nurses are only available for emergencies during their shift change. Your child may have the same or different nurses assigned to them each day during their stay.

Other staff

  • Care coordinators/discharge planners: Coordinates complex inpatient care and works with families, the health care team and community resources to arrange care at home.
  • Chaplain: Provides pastoral, spiritual and emotional support to patients and families from diverse faith traditions and cultures (available 24/7).
  • Child Life Specialist: Focuses on your child’s emotional and developmental needs; helps reduce the stress of a hospital stay; and provides information about play, child development and adjustment to illness.
  • Clinical care partner: Assists the nurse with your child’s daily activities.
  • Clinical social worker: Provides support services and resource referrals with a focus on helping the family adjust to the impact of illness and hospitalization. Guidance is also available for families needing help outside the hospital setting, including referrals for housing, transportation (including parking) and financial assistance.
  • Occupational therapist (OT): Works with your child if he or she faces challenges due to injury, illness, disease, or developmental delay. They may assess how your child performs daily tasks by looking at strength, balance, vision and cognition.
  • Pharmacist: Prepares medicine prescribed by doctors. They can also tell you about a medicine’s purpose, effectiveness and side effects.
  • Phlebotomist: A medical professional who is trained to perform blood draws. If your child needs blood work, a phlebotomist will come and obtain the blood sample
  • Physical therapist (PT): Helps patients gain independence by restoring strength and function.
  • Registered dietitian: Evaluates your child’s growth and nutrition status and makes nutrition recommendations based on your child’s medical condition.
  • Respiratory therapist (RT): Treats and monitors your child’s breathing problems.
  • Speech and language pathologist (SLP): Assesses and supports your child’s ability to speak, understand, read, write and swallow.
  • Unit coordinators (UC): Responsible for administrative duties at the front desk of your unit.