HOW TO APPROACH A SURGEON IN THE OR
A med students guide.
- •It all starts with a bathroom breakDon't have to go? Yes, you do. Force it.
- •And a slow walk to the ORLook around for any friends to chat with on the way. Even an acquaintance will do.
- •Lunch lady hairnet, now!Time to conceal your identify! If you have long hair, better have a hair tie. Forcefully tuck your hair into one bouffant. Do not use two, tried it and regret it. The surgical intern told me to NEVER do it again. I didn't know it was so shameful!
- •Once in the vicinity of the OR, look for people huddling around a plasma screenThis will have the OR number, attending, and whether the procedure started. This is all the info you need. Still feeing worried or lost? Of course you are.
- •Even so, smile at the older lady behind the nursing station and clarify what room the attending is inThe smaller the hospital, the more likely the nurse will walk you into the OR and introduce you. This is GOLD. It hardly ever happens but is worth the try.
- •Stand before the OR doors and procrastinatePractice pronouncing the attendings name. Fuck, practice saying your own name. Decide what specialty you're advocating for today. Consider starting back at step 1. Delay for as long as possible.
- •DONT FORGET TO PUT ON YOUR MASKForget this and you're done. Chances are you didn't get to the OR doors in your white coat without people losing their minds, but check to make sure it's not on regardless.
- •Open the door slowly and make sure it doesn't slam behind youThat's not the entrance you want to make.
- •Immediately press yourself against the wallStay on the periphery at all times. Pretend the center is lava.
- •Nod to the anesthesiologist / CRNATotally different approach, less fear and more smiles. Fondly remember your week on that rotation.
- •If you can get to the circulating nurse, scoot her way and introduce yourself as politely as possibleUse a strong, confidence voice. If the attending hears, skip the next steps.
- •Equipment in the way of the nurse? Stand stillJust stand there. Allow your emotions to flow over you. What are you doing? Should you speak up? Should you conquer the obstacle course to the nurse? Is blue bad or good (SHIT)? What if they are really focused? God, you're a loser. All your non medical friends don't ever have to feel this way. How much are you paying to feel this way? Should I cough? I definitely shouldn't look at my phone, right? I should just stand here right? Right?
- •Wait to be acknowledgedSometimes it takes five minutes. Sometimes 15. There's usually an intern scrubbed in retracting that is intentionally looking out for a replacement. Attempt to make eye contact with them.
- •Approach the table the way you would a stray dogSlowly, maintaining false eye contact, aware of every step. An outstretched hand is a bit much, but you'll sense it emotionally anyways.
- •Say your name as clearly and concisely as possibleMaybe even add in a joke about it. Or at least an easy way to remember. I like to mention "sweet Caroline" to older attendings, and just say "like the song" to younger ones. I then politely laugh as they sing a line from Outkast. From here on out, respond to any name.
- •Breathe!You did it! You introduced yourself! Either you'll now be told to immediately scrub in, asked to return to your spot near the wall, or pimped on anatomy! Don't worry, chance are the procedure is ending after all that time anyways! 👯