• Your main place of work as a nurse is going to be a hospital. 
  • Hospitals vary widely in the services they offer and therefore, in the departments they have.
  • Modern hospital buildings are designed to minimize the effort of medical personnel and the possibility of contamination while maximizing the efficiency of the whole system. 
  • Travel time for personnel within the hospital and the transportation of patients between units is facilitated and minimized.

Intensive Care Unit. Photo: Norbert Kaiser.

License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic



  • Department: a specialized division of a large organization; "you'll find it in the hardware department"; 
  • Unit: an organization regarded as part of a larger social group; "after the battle the soldier had trouble rejoining his unit” 
  • Ward: block forming a division of a hospital (or a suite of rooms) shared by patients who need a similar kind of care; 


Sometimes the words are interchangeable, but you will mainly hear speak about departments and patients’ wards.

Here you have a list of some of the most common departments or units you may find in a hospital:

  • A & E: Accident and Emergency: it is a department specializing in acute care of patients who don’t have a prior appointment and who come to the hospital either by their own means or by ambulance. 
  • ICU: Intensive Care Unit: it is a specialized department in a hospital that provides intensive-care medicine.
  • Operating Theatre: it is a room where operations are performed
  • Radiology or X-Ray: it is a department where radiographies are taken to patients
  • Laboratory: it is a place equipped for experimental study or for testing and analysis
  • Outpatients’:  it is a department where you can find those patients who are not hospitalized overnight but who visit a hospital or a clinic for diagnosis or treatment.
  • Kitchen: it is a place aimed at cooking and serving food.
  • Pharmacy: it is a place where medicines are compounded or given out.
  • Technical Services: it is a department that manages and maintains Hospital facilities and critical services.
  • Blood bank: it is a place for storage of or an institution storing blood or plasma
  • Administration: it is a place where the execution of something is directed.
Last modified: Tuesday, 13 June 2017, 9:08 AM