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7 Ways to Show Your Value in the Operating Room

Posted on: January 16, 2020

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written by

Teresa Otto, MD

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You seem to fit perfectly in the organization’s anesthesia department and hope to extend your stay. From learning a surgeon’s preferences, to properly documenting the care you give, here are seven ways to show you’re a valuable member of the surgical team:

1) Be Punctual

This is as basic as it gets. Show up on time. In fact, reduce your stress level by showing up early as you begin your assignment. One wrong turn finding the locker room or trouble accessing the patient’s electronic medical record can easily derail an on-time start in the operating room. Many OR’s (operating room) document the cause of a surgical delay. You don’t want your name on that line.

2) Dress the Part

Sure, you can roll into the locker room in shorts and flip-flops since you’re changing into scrubs, but as a professional, it’s best to dress the part. I’m not talking about a suit and tie or conservative skirt and blouse. I am suggesting business casual attire that’s neat, clean, pressed, and professional.

Dressing the part also includes following the hospital’s protocol for jewelry in the operating room. You may need to leave your rings, earrings, and bracelets in the locker. Be sure to review the institution’s requirements for personal protective equipment (gowns, masks, gloves) while performing procedures such as central line and epidural placement, spinal taps, and intravenous line insertions.

3)Provide Your Contact Info on Day One

Pagers are passe’ in many institutions these days. Give your coworkers, staff, and schedulers your cell phone number, hotel/home landline number, and email address. Have them send you a text to confirm they have your correct cell number and, in turn, you’ll have their contact information. Minutes saved contacting you may make a big difference in patient outcome.

4) Take the Time to Review the Next Day’s Cases

Be proactive. Are there additional labs the patient needs? Does the patient need further workup for chest pain or exercise intolerance? Is the patient optimized for surgery? All these questions are better answered the day before surgery. Last minute cancellations may not be completely avoidable, but should be minimized by proactively reviewing charts, ordering additional tests, and discussing the case with the patient’s primary care team and surgeon.

5) Learn the Surgeon’s Preferences

A cholecystectomy may be a 15-minute surgery for a very experienced surgeon or a 90-minute (if you’re lucky) slog in a teaching hospital. Getting a time estimate from the surgical assistant, circulating nurse, or OR tech can help you tailor your anesthetic.

In addition, surgeons use a posting sheet to schedule procedures. There they may list an estimated length of surgery, additional procedures, positioning needs, etc. Communication directly with the surgeon regarding his/her anesthesia needs if you’ve yet to work together is essential.

6) Help the Hospital Get Paid for Your Work

Barton Associates handles all credentialing paperwork. Provide your NPI number to Barton Associates in a timely manner so the client can bill for your services immediately.

Document legibly if notes are handwritten. CMS requires a focused preoperative physical and anesthesia plan in the chart before the patient enters the operating room. All anesthesia codes need proper documentation, as well, whether they’re for post-operative pain blocks or invasive line placement.

Respond promptly to requests for additional documentation or corrections to the chart.

7) Be a Team Player

You’ve finished your scheduled cases and no additional cases are coming to you. Before you head out the door, check in with the on-call anesthesiologist or person who manages the schedule. Offer breaks to those who’ve been in the OR for hours and are desperate for a brief change of scenery. See any of your in-house post-op patients and review tomorrow’s cases. These few extra minutes will set you apart, prove you’re a professional, and make an assignment extension or return visit that much more likely – a win for you, the client, and Barton Associates.

Teresa Otto, MD
About Teresa Otto, MD

Teresa Otto, MD, is an anesthesiologist who has traveled extensively as a military physician and more recently as a locum tenens anesthesia provider. Her travels have taken her to 44 states and 50 countries and all 7 continents.

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