What Is a Hospital?

A hospital is a medical institution that provides around-the-clock medical care and treatment to sick or injured patients. It consists of a range of departments including emergency, surgical, medical and obstetrics services. It also has specialized support facilities like pathology, pharmacy and radiology.

Aside from providing healthcare, hospitals also do research and development to advance the science of medicine. They are a vital part of the healthcare system due to their life-saving capabilities, comprehensive health services, disease management, contribution to medical advancements and readiness to deal with emergencies. They are often referred to as the heart of the healthcare system.

Hospitals can be either public or private but they must always comply with certain standards set by the government and the American Health Association (AHA). A hospital may be a freestanding facility or a part of a larger medical complex.

Some hospitals are specialized for specific treatments such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases or infectious diseases. Others are devoted to particular age groups or offer general healthcare services. Hospitals are usually large enough to be able to handle a significant number of patients at the same time, although there is an increasing trend for smaller hospitals to be formed that can provide personalized healthcare and shorter waiting times.

When a patient needs to stay in a hospital, they are usually admitted on the advice of their doctor who has admitting privileges at that hospital. Then the hospital takes down the patient’s medical history and checks whether they have health insurance coverage.

In an emergency, a hospital must be able to treat a lot of patients at once. This is why they have special disaster plans ready to cope with such situations. The doctors also have a procedure called triage to assess the severity of a person’s injury so that those who are most critically ill can be treated first.

Modern hospitals are usually subsidized by the local, state or national government or not-for-profit and for-profit health agencies. They also rely on donations from people who give to charity. Hospital construction costs are usually paid for by government contributions while operating expenses are covered by charges levied on insured patients, monies collected from health insurance providers and private donors or a mixture of these.

To prepare for a career in a hospital, it is important to gain some work experience in a clinic and acquire relevant academic and licensing qualifications. Then, you can focus on applying for open positions in areas that appeal to you such as clinical or non-clinical roles, administration and support. To excel in such roles you must be able to work well in fast-paced environments, follow strict protocols and collaborate with other departments. Other desirable skills include communication abilities, critical thinking and compassion.