Many different types of medical professionals help deliver your child’s day-to-day care in the hospital. Your hospital care team should regularly update your primary cardiologist about your child’s progress during this time.

Every morning the physicians and nurses who lead the team walk around the unit to discuss each child and make a care plan for the day. These meetings are called “rounds.” Ideally you will participate in daily rounds with the medical professionals so that you can ask questions and get updates on your child’s care. If you are unable to be there for rounds, you can ask your nurse or care team for an update any time.

Parents are encouraged to be as involved as possible with their child’s care in the hospital. You know your child better than anyone else, so you may notice something the nurse or medical team does not. When parents actively communicate with the care team, their children often end up receiving care that is better suited to them.

Rounds are an opportunity for you to talk with key members of the care team, but outside of rounds you will also need to communicate with team members responsible for different parts of your child’s care in the hospital. It will help you to learn about the different types of medical professionals and what they do for your child.

It’s important to build good partnerships with your care team. As you spend more time in the hospital, you will get more experience communicating with the care team and gradually learn who to talk with when you have a question. If you are confused or concerned about your child’s care, it might be helpful to talk with your primary cardiologist.

Who’s on Duty in the Hospital?

The Core Team

Your child’s care team will often include a cardiologist, nurse practitioner or physician assistant, resident, nurse, pharmacist, respiratory therapist, dietician, case manager, and social worker.

The Day Team

During the day you will typically have a general pediatric resident, cardiology nurse practitioner, or hospitalist as your child’s primary caregiver with your bedside nurse. There is always an attending physician who oversees the care of each patient. Cardiology fellows who are learning to become attending cardiologists may also help oversee the primary care team members.

The Night Team

At night there is generally either a cardiology fellow, nurse practitioner, or pediatric resident who works with the bedside nurse to provide care. The on-call cardiologist can always be reached to give advice on medical decisions made day or night.

The Weekend Team

On weekend days the care team is smaller as ancillary members such as dieticians and case managers do not round with each patient. Physicians are on call and round on each child during the weekend, and a nurse will always be available to answer your questions.

How to Participate in Rounds

  • Ask for information

    Rounds with the full team usually take place every morning while your child is in the hospital. It’s a good idea to ask a team member what time rounds typically occur so that you know when to be there.

  • Know what to expect

    During rounds, the team taking care of your child comes into the room or a nearby area to talk with you about your child’s health and the plan for the day. They will also answer any questions you have. Rounds generally last no more than 10 minutes with you and your child, and the team uses that time to focus on the most important things. When there are questions that need longer discussion, the team will set up a time outside of rounds to return and speak with you.

  • Prepare a list of questions

    It can be very helpful to think of questions before the team arrives. Your nurse can help you write these questions on the white board in the room. You can also write them down on a piece of paper, on your phone or tablet, on your computer, or in a notebook.

  • Join in the discussion as you are comfortable

    Patients and families are always welcome to participate in the team discussion, though it is your choice. Some parents feel afraid to speak up or feel like their input may not be helpful, but medical teams often find that parents provide valuable information and insights. You are also free to just listen, or to ask the team to round outside the room and talk with you later in the day.

  • Be sure you understand the care plan

    Before the team finishes rounds for your child, they should summarize the plan for the day and explain any changes in the plan of care. The goal of your involvement in rounds is for you to understand and feel comfortable with everything the team discusses. If you need additional information after rounds, make a list of questions and find out who the best person is to help you.

When You’re Struggling to Communicate

With all the stress in the hospital, there may be times when you feel like you and your care team are not communicating well.

There may be times when your emotions are strong and it’s difficult to process all of the information. There may also be times when the care team is in a rush and not able to spend as much time with you as they would like. Sometimes there is uncertainty about future plans – such as when your child will have a test or procedure. Different medical professionals may interpret information about your child in different ways, and typically many team members provide input in the care plan.

On your child’s road to recovery, it can be frustrating to wait for signs of progress, new information, and key decisions. If you are having communication difficulties, talk with your bedside nurse, the care unit manager, and/or your social worker. They can be your advocate to the team, and help the team understand how to better meet your communication needs. Often a large care team family discussion can be arranged to answer many questions all at once.

PARENT TIPLearn Who to Ask When You Have a Question

Directing your questions to the right person can help you get the best answer quickly. In addition to your primary inpatient care provider and attending physician, many others work to help you and your child during a hospitalization. Your child’s bedside nurse is always able to help get the right answer to your question if other team members are not immediately available.

Team Member to Ask Common Parent Questions
Pediatric ICU attending physician or cardiologist
  • Will my child need any additional surgeries?
  • What is my child’s long-term prognosis?
  • How long will my child be hospitalized?
Nurse practitioner, cardiology fellow, or pediatric resident
  • How long will my child need to take the prescribed medications?
  • What can I expect during this hospital stay?
  • What are the goals to meet before discharge?
  • What signs or symptoms should I watch for?
  • Are there any physical activity restrictions?
  • When will my child have tests/imaging done? What restrictions in oral intake will be needed and for how long before these tests?
  • When will we receive results, and who will discuss them with us?
Bedside nurse
  • What medications is my child currently taking? When are they given?
  • How do I care for the wound and bathe my child?
  • How do I administer chest physiotherapy?
  • If I’m unable to attend rounds, who will call me (daily) and about what time? What number can I call to receive updates?
Case manager
  • How do I learn how to use the medical supplies that are being sent home with me?
  • When will the supplies be delivered?
Respiratory therapist
  • How do I use a nebulizer machine?
  • How do I give respiratory treatments?
Social worker
  • How can I arrange for a place to stay while my child is hospitalized?
  • What if I have questions about insurance?
  • What resources are available if I need financial or emotional support?
  • Can I get help with transportation or paying for parking or meal tickets?
  • Who can I talk with if I feel depressed or feel like I can’t manage/cope with the situation?
Child life specialist
  • How can I help my child cope with this hospitalization?
  • How can I help my other children cope?
Lactation specialist
  • What if I need help with breastfeeding, or learning how to pump breast milk?
  • What formula is best for my child?
  • How much should my child eat?
  • How many calories are needed each day?
  • Can you educate me about the new medication and possible side effects?
Occupational, physical, and speech therapists
  • What activities can I do with my child while they are here to help them get stronger?
  • What are ways I can help my child eat or drink?
  • How will my child’s feeding tube work when we go home?


If you do not know how to find the care team member you want to talk to, ask your bedside nurse or the charge nurse how to reach that person. Be flexible as possible with your time. If you want to speak to a person and only have a limited availability it will be harder to meet.

You usually do not need to communicate with your child’s primary cardiologist and pediatrician, because the hospital care team will give them regular updates about your child’s progress.

The care team needs to meet with all of their patients and families, so rounds generally last no more than 10 minutes. This allows them enough time to see everyone and address the most urgent care issues and decisions. If you need more time to talk, your child’s nurse practitioner or physician can come back later in the morning or afternoon.

You can tell any member of your care team if you have more questions. If new questions come up after rounds, your nurse can help or they can get in touch with others on the medical team who can provide answers.

That’s okay. Not all parents can be at the hospital for rounds because they need to work or because they are caring for other children. Try to participate in rounds as often as you can, but know that the physicians will meet every day to discuss your child’s care whether you are there or you are not there. If you cannot be there for rounds, you can ask the bedside nurse questions by phone or when you get to the hospital.

Residents and fellows are licensed physicians with a medical degree. They are part of the care team that supports your child’s attending physician, who is the person ultimately in charge of your child’s treatment.

Rounds provide an opportunity for physicians in training to learn about giving care at the hospital. When the team comes to meet with your family, they will spend a little bit of time talking to each other as part of this learning. This is a normal part of rounds.

Rounds are an important way for you to learn what is happening with your child’s care, but usually only a few members of the care team participate in rounds. There are times when a meeting with the full medical team is needed, including your primary cardiologist and other consultants if possible. This is called a “care conference.” A care conference may happen when you or the team have major concerns, if there’s a significant change in your child’s health, or when there are major milestones or decisions to be made. These care conferences can also help resolve communication barriers or frustrations.