Behind The Scenes

In the OR, it is easy to think that management is doing nothing.  The staff members are each assigned to an operating room, which they are basically confined for a long period of time.  They don’t really leave the Surgery Department because it is a locked unit, unless of course, they are on their lunch break.

If the managers doesn’t make rounds, checking in on the nurses and techs, then it is basically “out of sight, out of mind.”  Their guess is that we are sitting around having coffee somewhere laughing at how hard the staff has to work.  Having been a staff nurse not that long ago, I remember thinking that leadership had no idea what was going on in the rooms.  Back then, it was true because our managers hardly made rounds, never gave a lunch relief (scrubbing or circulating), and were tough to find when surgeons were angry.

Our staff can’t say that about us.  Even our OR manager knows how to scrub a total joint.  How’s that for rolling up your selves and pitching in?  I wish I could have a camera mounted on my head (just like we have headlights for surgeons), so that the staff can see what we go through.

Ultimately, I know that no matter what I tell them, they won’t care about what management endures.  The load they carry is big because they are there in the rooms giving direct patient care.  I get that.  This desire is selfish on my part.  It would be nice for people to appreciate the things that we go through just to get them the tools they need to do their jobs, keep their overtime, have a nice newly constructed lounge with brand spanking new furniture, or whatever the case may be.

If I was a bit more selfish, I probably wouldn’t worry about this at all.  I would go and have that cup of coffee.  Unfortunately, that’s not how I’m built.  As the demands increase from levels above and below me, I tell myself that I have an expiration date.  Just like our medications…

My manager told me this morning, “As leaders, we have to give up a lot.”  Blah, blah, blah.  Sure we do.  But where do we draw the line?

A couple of weeks ago, I had a terrible headache so I ran to the holding area to ask a friend Tracy to take my blood pressure if she wasn’t busy.  She took one look at me and her smile turned into a worried frown.  Tracy grabbed my hand to lead me to the sphygmomanometer.  Pointing at the number on the screen,  139/91, she exclaimed, “This is why you have a headache!”

My blood pressure has NEVER been that high before.

It was then that I realized that I have to stop putting myself last.  I have to stop taking to heart every little thing that happens during my work day.  At some point, I need to stop sacrificing myself.  I HAVE TO PUT ME FIRST BEFORE IT KILLS ME.

From The Archives: “To My Favorite Residents”

LTC has surgical and anesthesia residents rotating through our department. Like anyone else on staff, there are good ones and some that are… Well, let’s just say that there is room for improvement. They were accepted into the program because of their medical knowledge and potential. However, there is more to being a good surgeon than just knowing what to do with instrumentation.

How do I like thee? Let me count the ways…
    1. At the beginning of your rotation you actually introduce yourself to the nurses and techs instead of, like a gunslinger, busting into a saloon as the “new sheriff in town.”
    1. You ask kindly if I wouldn’t mind answering your pager because you’re on call. And you apologize profusely since it is my least favorite thing to do when I’m circulating.
    1. You don’t stand there just watching while all 5 feet of me is struggles to hold a 300 lb. patient steady during a spinal. Not only do you help, but you refrain from short jokes – well, at least most of the time.
    1. You help me get the cart out of the room after transferring a patient to the OR table so that I can quickly put the safety strap on, help the anesthesiologist with the monitors, and provide comfort to the patient.
    1. When you’re on top of completing the H&P (history and physical), initialing the surgical site, and ordering appropriate medication prior to me picking up the patient from holding, you help me keep things moving along.
    1. I’m impressed when you take the time to answer a patient’s and his/her family’s questions.
    1. You take patient care seriously by doing a thorough job closing the surgical site and putting on the dressings without getting blood all over them.
    1. Instead of answering your pages or checking your e-mail, when it comes time to transfer a patient from OR table to cart, you’re ready to go.
    1. You don’t purposely drop stuff on the floor (unless you really have to) ’cause you know someone else has to pick it up and I’m not your mother.
  1. Ultimately, you understand and appreciate that it takes teamwork to give good patient care in surgery.

Because of this…

….I don’t mind answering your pager even when it goes off 10 times during a procedure.

….I will share my lunch with you when you haven’t had a break and there’s no food left in the doctor’s lounge.

….I will provide positive feedback with the surgeons you work with.

….I will remember your glove sizes and pull them so that you don’t have to worry about doing that for every case.

….I will save certain items that you need for learning/teaching purposes (within reason, of course).

….I will show you the respect that you give me.