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Behind Closed Doors
It's Not Just the Surgeons...
Paula Watkins
Publish Date: October 10, 2007   |  Tags:   Opinion

I try not to play favorites when I poke fun at the folks in the OR, but I'll admit I'm guilty of giving the surgeons most of the attention. It's a force of habit after 27 years on the job at their call. Not that the other personnel have escaped my notice, though. Just as with surgeons, some of them deserve my jibes more than others.

  • Administrators. Some of them sit on top of the pyramid, making business decisions with their favorite question, "How much is it going to cost?" They know they have an OR because there's a budget for it and it brings in a lot of money, but they've never actually seen it. There's real bleeding going on there, not just the financial kind.

The others are concerned with their budgets, too, but they also meet with and nurture their staffs and strive to create an environment that motivates their assets to stay and invites others to join them.

  • Nursing directors. Some have finally reached their aspirations: They have a title, wear a suit and acrylic nails, and drink their coffee from mugs with profound statements or cute pictures of bunnies and bears. They're highly skilled at delegating responsibility since then they can avoid changing out of the suit or breaking a nail.

Other directors arrive at 6 a.m., change into scrubs and start filling the positions left vacant by call-ins. They might even fill a vacancy themselves, no matter how rusty they may be. They're not concerned with the suit or the nails. It's all the different hats they wear in a day that's important.

  • Supervisors. Some of them can't seem to oversee operations and touch a patient at the same time. They run the schedule and assess the day's cases from the OR windows. They also wear acrylic nails, because the rules say they're OK if you're not involved in direct patient care.

The others don't care what their nails look like. They didn't take this job for the glamour. They carry the clipboard, but also circulate, scrub, turn over rooms and stand in for nurses on break.

  • Circulators. Some spend more energy trying to get out of their assignments than actually working them, and it's never their fault when supplies or equipment are missing from a case. The previous shift should have gotten that stuff together.

The others plan ahead. They know that the busier they are, the quicker they'll get through the day with energy to spare. As much as they want a smooth case, they also know that the patient is the center of attention and that the surgeon is the customer.

  • Scrubs. Some of them use every asset they have to get out of jobs that they don't want to do, don't know how to do, don't want to learn how to do and were hired to do.

The others work hard to be a part of the team and know that their actions reflect on the other players. They're proud of their positions, capabilities and knowledge, and strive to be valuable, respected and marketable.

If some of you are offended by the jabs in this column, then perhaps re-evaluating the impression you are making among your peers will help you to join the others.

DID YOU SEE THIS?