Access Now: Transmission Precautions for Monkeypox Infection

Are You Treating Your Surgeons Like Valued Customers?

Publish Date: January 8, 2020

Surgeons often “talk” with their feet. If they are not happy working at your facility, they will simply take their business to a different hospital.

That’s why fostering strong relationships between nurses and surgeons is critical to keep quality surgeons working at and trusting your hospital for the care of their patients, advises Susan Hicks, MN, RN, CEO and President of Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree, Colo., and a former perioperative nursing director. “The economic engine of the hospital is surgery and a good leader with a savvy business perspective knows satisfied surgeons bring their patients to your ORs, which benefits your hospital’s reputation and performance.”

Achieving Physician Satisfaction

Hicks says the key is to treat each and every physician as a valued customer. “Perioperative leaders need to understand they have two customers—the patient and the surgeon. Physicians want exceptional patient care in an environment that is efficient and enables them to be productive. When your team delivers this consistently, the physician is far more likely to consider your facility as his or her hospital of choice.

She sees nurses playing an integral role in meeting these physician needs through creating a strong professional bond. Here are five ways nurse and surgeon relationships are fostered in her hospital:

  1. Help surgeons to feel part of a team.

    Specialty service lines such as the Spine and Joint Center at Sky Ridge have established teams that train and work together alongside the surgeon, creating predictability, camaraderie and familiarity, Hicks explains. “This enables our nurses to form stronger bonds with our surgeons and thus be part of something bigger.”

    She says the team approach enables a nurse to understand the practice needs of the surgeon, creating a higher quality surgical experience for the entire team. This team approach also allows a nurse to get to know the practice needs of the surgeon, which supports more streamlined surgical care and camaraderie to create a positive experience for physicians and nurses.

    To promote this team identity, nurses working at the Spine and Joint Center wear specially designed Spine and Total Joint team jackets and they participate in annual Physician Spirit Awards to recognize the surgeons with whom they work, creating an even more powerful bond, she adds.

  2. Encourage nurses to be interested in the procedures.

    Reward nurses for expanding their education and learning about specific procedures, Hicks suggests. “Physicians love to teach. By being engaged and showing interest, the nurse learns the nuances of the procedure as well as the physician’s preferences during the case.”

  3. Suggest finding ways to know the surgeon better.

    Ask nurses to find something unique or personal about the surgeons with whom they work, she advises. “Maybe a surgeon just had a grandchild, has a child graduating from college or just returned from a trip—knowing what is important to a surgeon beyond the OR goes a long way in building personal connections.”

  4. Ensure follow-up if something didn’t go well.

    From time to time, there may be an incident or event that upsets the surgeon, such as a requested instrument not being available or an unexpected delay. Take these moments seriously and don’t take them personally, Hicks says. “Let the surgeon know you appreciate the concern and explain what was done to resolve it. This is an opportunity to build trust and greater rapport, as well as strengthen the professional connection—trust is fundamental.”

  5. Promote team successes.

    “When a surgical team earns a distinction, celebrate together,” Hicks stresses. For example, this year Sky Ridge Medical Center’s main OR was ranked #1 and its Spine and Joint Center earned the #2 slot nationally as Units of Distinction from HCA Healthcare, the hospital’s parent company. 

    “Such successes are a team effort. Celebrating together demonstrates that every member contributes to the overall successful patient experience,” she says. “When surgeons know their patients are receiving the highest quality care from compassionate, well-trained professionals, they will say yes to your hospital.”


Free Resources for Members

Guideline Essentials: Effectively communicate with your OR team with ready-to-use and customizable PowerPoint templates, competency tools, step-by-step instructions and videos, case studies, and more for the guideline on Team Communication.


AORN Journal CNE Articles

Guideline Implementation: Team Communication (1.8 CHs)



T.E.A.M.S - Together Everyone Accomplishes More Safely Replay (1.0 CHs)

Guideline on Team Communication Replay 2018 (1.0 CHs)


AORN Journal Articles

Implementing No Interruption Zones in the Perioperative Environment