Life in the OR…8 skills I forgot I had (or needed!)

Life in the OR…8 skills I forgot I had (or needed!)

I recently spent a couple of days circulating cases in the OR.  I’ve done a lot of circulating in my day, but as of late, have provided relief and breaks, but haven’t really lived the life, so to speak.  When the opportunity presented itself, I closed my binders, turned off my computer, and, after  some review and orientation, I was back at it, with (luckily) the support of a great experienced team.   I feel somewhat accomplished  after jumping back in having removed the rust, and thought I would share some skills I remember are needed to do the job well.  They may not be the ones you put on your job descriptions, but are just as important in my humble opinion.  Here they are, in no particular order:

  1.  Agility.  Whether it is walking backwards with Ginger Roger’s grace to anesthesia’s Fred Astaire while wheeling a patient in and out of the OR, playing virtual twister to plug in, move or reach equipment, or climbing through tables and machines, one must be cat-like in maneuvering the room and facility.

twister pic

2.  Mad Manual Dexterity.  On top of the almost impossible packaging that has to be opened Right NOW and the fact that your hands are already at a level of freezing made worse by all the alcohol hand sanitizing, it is a skill in itself.

3.  Night Vision.    As challenging as all the multitude of necessary tasks can be, doing said tasks with little light can add additional fun to the day.  Thank goodness for task lighting!

4.  Keen hearing.  Not only are we hearing around or through OR hats/caps, we are listening to mask-muffled, often head down conversation.  This while navigating the room using skills noted in #1 and possibly #3.  And sometimes #2.

5.  Mad Tech Skills.  No offense to IT folks, but they have nothing on OR staff.  Troubleshooting NASA-like equipment and getting  it up and running appropriately NOW is a superhero skill in itself.

6.  Thick Skin.  It’s not personal.  ‘Nuff said.

7.  DeeJay talent.  The music needs to be: a.) at the right volume; b.) setting the right mood; c.) the physician’s preference; and d.) changed on a dime at the physician’s request.


8.  Positive Attitude.  Negativity is not an option.  Keeping the vibes positive is key to a productive good day.

So, next time you can, get back in the OR and live the life a bit if you don’t already.  Even if you aren’t clinical, you can turnover and be assigned tasks to help.  You’ll be reminded of all the mad skills needed that make your facility successful, and have a better appreciation of those who do it every day, and be grateful, as I am, of their awesome skills.

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