While I was in the operating room today, doing my favorite dance, i.e. cataract surgery, I realized something… my success as a surgeon is in large part due to the staff assisting me in the OR.
Firstly, there is a surgical technician who sets up all the instruments and hands them to me during the case. A good surgical tech anticipates the surgeons actions and has the next instrument ready. When I’m working with a surgical tech that knows me well, it flows beautifully. I’ve barely reached my hand out for the next instrument and it’s already there. I don’t have to ask for anything, she has already prepared what I’ll need next. This wordless exchange is seamless, and we can carry on conversations about myriad topics while we do this graceful dance. It’s often a fun surprise when the patient, who is usually in a twilight sleep, chimes in on the conversation from under the drape.
In addition to the surgical tech, there is also a circulating nurse and a nurse anesthetist (or anesthesiologist) in the room with me. The circulator does just that – circulates – almost non-stop to prepare everything between cases, bring the patient in the room, and fetch whatever is needed during the case. An ideal circulating nurse should be efficient, while attuned to details, friendly with the patients, while maintaining professionalism, and helpful to the surgeon. I have been lucky to work with great nurses, and it’s part of what makes my OR day the highlight of the week. The anesthetist does the critical job of keeping the patient alive and comfortable while I operate. It’s important to me that my patients have a pleasant and painless surgical experience, and that is achieved by good anesthesia, not too light, not too heavy.
As mentioned in my Clinic Culture post, the staff helps set the tone for friendly and compassionate patient care, and this is very true in the surgical setting, as well. Everyone the patient meets from when they enter the surgery center to when they arrive in the recovery room post-operatively impacts their overall surgical experience. As the surgeon, I am only one link in this chain of kindness.
Even outside of surgery and clinic, my success is related to the people I surround myself with, both actually and virtually. Therefore, I try to surround myself by people that remind me of my purpose in life, my goals, and generally encourage and support me to the best person I can be. This applies to family and close friends, but also to virtual friends and connections on social media. They can promote and amplify the best side of me, or if I’ve chosen wrongly, they can really bring me down.
Look around and ask yourself, do the people I spend the most time with reflect the true me, the best me, or the person I strive to be… If not, it may be time to reach out and make new connections. Although it takes time and effort, it’s well worth it. I speak from personal experience, as this past year I prioritized developing social connections that bring me joy, not only those that I feel obligated to maintain, and it has made a positive difference in my well being.
There is an Islamic saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ that states: Try to have as many as possible true friends, for they are the supplies in joy and the shelters in misfortunes.