Attending physician

In the United States and Canada, an attending physician (also known as a staff physician or supervising physician) is a physician (usually an M.D. or D.O.) who has completed residency and practices medicine in a clinic or hospital, in the specialty learned during residency.[1] An attending physician typically supervises[2] fellows, residents, and medical students. Attending physicians may also maintain professorships at an affiliated medical school.[2] This is common if the supervision of trainees is a significant part of the physician's work. Attending physicians have final responsibility, legally and otherwise, for patient care, even when many of the minute-to-minute decisions are being made by house officers (residents) or non-physician health-care providers (i.e. physician assistants and nurse practitioners).[3] Attending physicians are sometimes the 'rendering physician' listed on the patient's official medical record, but if they are overseeing a resident or another staff member, they are 'supervising.'

The term "attending physician" or "attending" also refers to the formal relationship of a hospitalized patient and their primary medic during the hospitalization, as opposed to ancillary physicians assisting the primary care physician.[citation needed] However, even on a consultation service, at an academic center, the physician who has finished his or her training is called the attending or consultant,[4] as opposed to a resident physician.

Attending physicians may also still be in training, such as a fellow in a subspecialty. For example, a cardiology fellow may function as an internal medicine attending, as they have already finished residency in internal medicine. The term is used more commonly in teaching hospitals. In non-teaching hospitals, essentially all physicians function as attendings in some respects after completing residency.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Attending physician". Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Attending Physician". ECFMG. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  3. ^ M. Andrew Greganti; Douglas A. Drossman; John F. Rogers (1982). "The Role of the Attending Physician". Archives of Internal Medicine. 142 (4): 698–699. doi:10.1001/archinte.1982.00340170054011. PMID 7073412.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ "Attending Physician Vs. Intern Vs. Resident—What's The Difference?". University Health Partners of Hawaii. 21 August 2020. Retrieved 11 May 2021.