Helping Professionals

Social Worker

hospitalsm Hospital

Hospital social workers help address concerns around diagnosis, what to expect, provide short-term counseling, and address needs upon leaving the hospital. They work to ensure everyone understands your child’s health care plan and can help address any miscommunication. They can arrange meetings between your family and the health care team. They are available to provide information and address questions on resources (around transportation, lodging, transfers to other medical facilities, services for home, etc.)

School-SM School

School social workers interact with the student, family, school and community as needed to support academic/social success. They may help the student with school adjustment, developing positive behavior strategies, and learning appropriate social skills, and they can help connect the student/family with school and community resources. The school social worker may also be involved with IEP meetings.


hospitalsm HOSPITAL

Hospital psychologist evaluate and treat mental health needs. They focus on the cognitive, emotional and behavioral factors as it relates to your child’s physical health/complex conditions. The health care team may need to make a referral to involve a psychologist in the care of your child. A neuropsychologist (a psychologist with specialized training in brain/behavior relationships) may work with your child to assess thinking, memory, judgment, behavior, etc.


School psychologists work with families and school professionals to help support students’ learning. This may involve activities such as psychological and academic assessments, promoting positive behaviors, reinforcing positive coping skills, helping to adjust classroom environment/routines to improve student learning, assessing emotional/behavioral needs, etc.

Speech Therapist

hospitalsm HOSPITAL

Hospital speech therapists work with your child to assist them with any difficulties they may have speaking or swallowing due to the injury.


School speech therapists work with student’s IEP team when he/she has communication difficulties that impact the educational setting (classroom activities, social interactions, literacy, etc.). This may involve working on speech fluency, articulation, functional communication, pragmatics (rules for social language), reading, etc.

Occupational Therapist

hospitalsm HOSPITAL

Hospital occupational therapists assess and provide treatment with regards to your child’s activities of daily living. They work to improve an individual’s ability to dress, bath, use the bathroom, etc.


School occupational therapists work with the student’s IEP team so your child can participate within the school setting. This may involve working on self-help skills, functional communication, as well as fine, gross and visual motor skills.

Physical Therapist

hospitalsm HOSPITAL

Hospital physical therapists evaluate and treat a person’s ability to move the body. They work to improve the child’s physical function by addressing muscle strength, flexibility, endurance, balance, and coordination.


School physical therapists work with the student’s IEP team so your child can function within the school setting. This may involve working on balance, mobility, transfer skills, etc.

Nurse/ Nurse Case Manager

hospitalsm HOSPITAL

A nurse on the floor where your child is hospitalized will help manage your child’s symptoms, administer medications, assist with daily care needs, and respond to the needs of the child/family. Nurses work closely with the doctors to help care for your child.

During a hospital stay a Nurse Case Manager may also work with your family. This nurse works with the health care team to assess your child’s needs so they may assist with discharge planning (providing resources/education, helping with follow-up appointments, ordering medical equipment for home, coordinating with insurance companies to ensure access to care, etc.)


The school nurse assists in the development/management of school health policies, school health programs, student health care plans, health screenings, etc. He/she may oversee health assistants within each school who are available to address the concerns/symptoms of students during the school day. School nurses are typically not assigned to a specific school but instead cover multiple schools.

Medical Doctor

hospitalsm HOSPITAL

The doctor will manage the care of your child. He/she works to determine what is the best care and treatment for your child. Specialty doctors (such as: neurologists, surgeon, etc.) may also be consulted or involved in directing the care of your child.

communitySM Community

Community based doctors provide medical care to your child when they are not in a hospital setting. They will manage the care of your child, assess progress, and determine best treatment. Follow-up appointments may be recommended/scheduled with a primary care physician and/or a specialist when you leave the hospital setting.

Pastoral/ Spiritual Care

hospitalsm HOSPITAL

Pastors or clergy of varying denominations are available to listen, talk, pray, and provide spiritual support for children and their families while they are hospitalized. They are available to support families of all faiths.

Child Life Specialist

hospitalsm HOSPITAL

Help educate and prepare your child for what to expect during procedures and during their hospital stay. Engage children in play and recreational activities to promote effective coping. They work with the entire family which can include support for siblings who may be affected during this difficult time.

Acronyms of Helping Professionals

  • DC – Doctor of Chiropractic
  • DO – Doctor of Osteopathy
  • FP – Family Practitioner
  • LCSW – Licensed Clinical Social Work
  • MD – Medical Doctor
  • MPH – Master of Public Health
  • NP – Nurse Practitioner
  • OT – Occupational Therapy
  • PA – Physician Assistant
  • PCP – Primary Care Physician
  • PharmD – Doctorate of Pharmacy
  • PT – Physical Therapy
  • RN – Registered Nurse
  • SLP – Speech Language Pathologist
  • SW – Social Worker

For more information on hospital staff visit Children’s Hospital Colorado-“Who’s Who in the Hospital”

Source: Information on this page was obtained and adapted from the following: Gillette Children’s- SW, C.S Mott’s Children’s Hospital, CDE- SSW, SSWAA, Gillette Children’s- Psych, Nationwide Children’s, Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey, NASP, JHH- PM&R, ASHA, CDE- OT, CDE- PT, BIAUSA, Seattle Children’s, NASN, CDE- School Nurse, Children’s Hospital Colorado, JHH- Children’s, Child Life Council,