THE UNSPOKEN RULES OF THE OPERATING ROOM THAT I WISH SOMEONE HAD TOLD ME


Heres the thing about the OR: There are lots of unspoken rules that you don't necessarily learn about in school. When I first started, I wish someone had warned me about this stuff because it would have saved me years of messing up to learn these lessons.


When working in surgical settings you tend to learn these rules in a trial by fire as in messing up a bunch, getting yelled at or getting treated passive-aggressively, and just learning by negative reinforcement lol. But not you! In over 12 years of working in surgery, I have extracted my best tips, that you can't get from any class or books so that you can forego the learning pains, and get better, faster. Here is exactly how to navigate the unspoken rules of surgery, and thrive in this blue & green jungle.


UNSPOKEN RULE # 1

THE OR FRONT DESK IS NOT CUSTOMER SERVICE


Assuming you are properly credentialed through HR or Medical Staff, your first pit stop after arriving in the operating room should be the good ol' OR front desk. If you are improperly credentialed, get that sorted out first, as you will not be allowed entrance if you are not properly vetted by the hospital.


I recommend1arriving 1hr to 45 mins before your case starts, so you have plenty of time to find where you're going, change and prepare for the case. Once you arrive, hit up the ORFD and have a look at the big board of cases for the day. The board is usually organized by room, surgeon, time of surgery, type of surgery, and staff assigned to the room or OR suite. The board may be in the form of a massive TV screen or a simple dry erase board.


PRO TIP: TRY AND FIND THE CASE ON THE BOARD YOURSELF

Figure out what room you’re in. If you can help it, try not to ask the front desk staff what room you are in, and try instead to find it yourself on the board so that you familiarize yourself with the format of the board so that going forward you can quickly get the info you need and move on.


Understand that the staff at the front desk are super busy, answering phones, dealing with staffing issues, delays, surgeons calling, pharmacy, blood bank, lab, etc. They tend to highly dislike having to stop their workflow, to tell people what surgery is where because the information is right up there on the board for all to see. So if they seem a bit inhospitable, cut them some slack because they are usually dealing with many things at once. I've met a lot of ORFD staff across many hospitals over the years, and every now and again you'll get a person who is warm and welcoming, and its the best, but for the most part, expect to be treated transactionally. Keep in mind that their role tends to be less a customer service role, and more of an air traffic controller with their hair on fire type role.