Walking into a hospital can be a bewildering experience for patients and their families. Although, as residents, we become accustomed to the routines and structures of the hospital, it can be a profoundly disorienting experience for our patients. When patients try to seek information from the medical professionals around them, the sea of often nearly identically dressed personnel can present a significant challenge to even hospital-savvy patients. As one of the many faces of various professions behind the white coats, we may add to this overwhelming feeling of confusion. Just trying to get an answer for a question as simple as “why can’t I eat?” will likely need to be asked to a multitude of people. Often, this is the case because patients don’t know to whom they are directing their questions.

Every time I approach a patient’s bedside,...

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