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In the United States and Canada, an attending physician (also known as an attending, rendering doc, or staff physician) is a physician (D.O. or M.D.) who has completed residency and practices medicine in a clinic or hospital, in the specialty learned during residency. An attending physician can supervise fellows, residents, and medical students. Attending physicians may also have an academic title at an affiliated university such as "professor". 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 subordinates (physician assistants, resident physicians, nurse practitioners, and medical students). 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.'
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 he or she has 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.
The term "attending physician" or "attending" also refers to the formal relationship of a hospitalized patient and their primary doctor during the hospitalization, as opposed to ancillary physicians assisting the primary doctor. However, even on a consultation service, at an academic center, the physician who has finished his training is called the attending or consultant, as opposed to a resident physician.