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Photo by Piron Guillaume on Unsplash

When you work in the OR you have a unique relationship with surgeons. I have been an ICU nurse in a surgical/trauma ICU, a kidney transplant coordinator, and a number of other kinds of nurses who work with surgeons. But the relationship I have with ‘My’ surgeons in the OR is unlike any other I’ve ever shared in any other position.

There is a level of trust within a team in an OR which even now still can catch me off guard. My docs who are kind and sociable with a familiar team will turn into a Snickers commercial right before my eyes when a new scrub enters our room. I have threatened to keep said candy bars available to them if they don’t mend their attitudes.

On the other hand, I experience the same thing when I venture into other team’s rooms to relieve my co-workers for lunch breaks. Their docs stare at me with distain and longingly call out for my co-worker — hoping against hope they have magically appeared and will answer. I remind them — Nope, still me…and the docs will fall silent for a while longer muttering silent prayers for the 30 minutes to pass quicker.

Even though we are all competent. We are not ‘their’ people. It is a trust thing. It is a need to know ‘there is someone here who can read my mind and has my back’ thing. And we mostly all understand that. Because we are OR nurses and techs. It’s what we do.

We read their minds and we have their backs. When the case goes bad. Or when they need something they thought they wouldn’t but things changed and now they do. Or when the music isn’t right. Or the monitors aren’t where they want. Or they prefer this instrument handed this way instead of that instrument handed that way. Or they are left handed.

We know what to do and when to do it without them having to say it out loud because we’ve danced this dance with them so many times — we just know.

We help them train their residents and medical students. We protect them from their pagers while they are operating. We spend long hours together in a small room listening to the music of their choosing.

And we save lives together.

Most OR nurses will tell you the reason they put up with the long hours, the brutal physical demands of the job and sometimes the less than stellar management isn’t so much for the patients — it’s for their Docs.

There is a saying that is perfect for OR nurses.

Doctors save patients. Nurses save Doctors.

That is my job description in six words

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Self discovery in progress, stay tuned

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