AORN Blog - The Periop Life

The Key to Harmonizing Your Surgical Team

A Conversation with Michele Deck, MEd, RN, BSN, LCCE, FACCE


The Key to Harmonizing Your Surgical Team

January 13, 2019   

Striving for harmony is an important objective for many reasons. We know that when perioperative professionals work in concert toward a shared goal with effective surgical team communication, we find success.

However, achieving harmony in the OR is no easy task.

Why? Because we work in diverse teams of professionals that span different specialties, disciplines and generations. This means that in one surgical team there are many different approaches and ways of communicating that may compete with common pressures to meet productivity goals while providing optimal patient care.

Big successes, such as positive patient outcomes, are just as important as the small successes, such as completing a successful postoperative debrief as a team, because working together, talking together, succeeding together is a sure-fire way to support our patients and enjoy our work.

So, how do we find positive ways to get our diverse team to work in harmony?

The first goal is to understand collectively what harmony looks like in a busy OR: Imagine a smooth-running, hard-working group of people using teamwork skills and knowledge of all team members to provide quality care from pre-admission through discharge. That’s harmony.

Harmonizing requires an environment of support, community, effective communication and effective team leadership.

Does your practice setting nurture this type of harmony? Admitting your team needs to work on strengthening collaboration in practice is the first step.

The next step is to acknowledge that it is possible. Like any success in the OR, achieving harmony takes commitment from every team member being open to change and working together.

One way I help teams foster harmony is to create personal connections and build relationships. Find opportunities to develop these connections in inservices, meetings, and gatherings to get people working together in positive ways (with or without them realizing it). Here are two ways I help teams jump start making these connections:

  • Ask team members to problem-solve a puzzle together.
  • Create pictures for team members to identify common and unique characteristics.

Ready to start working on harmony for a great start in the new year? Learn new skills for engaging your team members at Deck’s session at AORN Global Surgical Conference & Expo on April 10 to learn the techniques for building a positive working team and a harmonious 2019.