Making a Difference in the Operating Room

April 10, 2015

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”   – C.S. Lewis

There are many different roles of the Surgical Technologist. Read any job description from any healthcare facility and the lists will be very similar.

  • Create a sterile field and maintain it
  • Help clean/sterilize instruments
  • Gather supplies
  • Stock blankets, fluid warmers, supplies

But how can we make a difference outside of our everyday duties?

Making a Difference in the OR

The first time I ever put on gown/gloves and “scrubbed in” was before I even went to school to be a scrub tech. I was an orderly on the heart team.  I had many duties at the time but one of them was holding the heart during bypass surgery. Before I could become part of the sterile team I had to train with one of our surgical technologists and understand the surgical hand scrub. After learning the basics of asepsis I was ready to jump into the middle of a heart surgery and get my hands dirty. Getting away from the everyday stocking of supplies was good enough for me. Finally the time came and the surgeon positioned my hand on the patient’s heart while he performed the bypass. At that moment I realized how important every member of the surgical team was. As I literally held this patient’s heart in my hand I said a prayer for them. I never made it public (until now) that I made it almost a ritual that I did with every patient I assisted with. I needed to find something unique that I felt made a difference in that patient’s life. Another duty I had at the time was going to get the patient before their heart surgery. Many, of course, were terrified. I jumped at the chance of saying a brief prayer with them and their families before going to surgery. I didn’t want to be seen only as the person taking their loved one away for surgery. I wanted to be almost a part of their family for a moment and let them see me as a comfort to them. For me prayer was an easy and simple way of achieving that goal.

The point of this is that regardless of what your beliefs are there are so many ways that you can change someone’s life.  In fact something as simple as offering a patient a warm blanket has been one of the most comforting things that I have witnessed.  You can literally see their face go from panic to comfort as soon as you place that on them.

As a medical professional you are seeing people on one of their most fearful days. Take a few moments and acknowledge the person lying on your operating room table. I learned that you do not have to be a doctor to have a direct impact on a patient’s life.  Take pride in your job and go above and beyond with simple ways of showing that you care and that they will not be alone in that cold and intimidating room.