Publish Date: January 22, 2020
Perioperative professionals are in positions that provide an opportunity to dramatically change patients' lives for the better. But such an impact cannot be achieved through the efforts of an individual. Rather, it requires the work of a cohesive team.
"No one can perform successful surgery by themselves," says Hassan Tetteh, MD, MBA, FACS, FACHE, associate professor of surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. "You need a constellation of individuals, including the patient, coming together and working in partnership to achieve a safe outcome that will serve the patient well."
Dr. Tetteh, who is also an adjunct faculty at Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C., explains three ways perioperative professionals can become better individual team members and harness the power of their partnership to make a positive impact on the many lives they touch.
- Appreciate everyone's contribution. Take the time to gain an understanding, and with it an appreciation, of the role each team member plays in a successful surgery. "Everyone's contribution counts," Dr. Tetteh says. "That means not just the surgeon, nurse, circulator and anesthesiologist, but every person who plays some role — no matter how small or big — in bringing a patient safely across the finish line. It takes everyone collectively working together to have a good outcome for a patient. At the center of it must always be the patient."
- Embrace communication. The importance of communication, Dr. Tetteh says, is a common theme often discussed in the perioperative setting. There's good reason.
"A foundational element of good partnerships, teamwork, and any kind of cooperative venture is communication," he says. "It is definitely a tool that must be used effectively to achieve success in partnerships. If you cannot communicate well between with all those individuals involved in the care of the patient, then you will not be successful."
Dr. Tetteh continues, "It doesn't matter how many people you have on a team. You could have a team of 20 or a team of two. If they are not communicating well or do not share the same understanding and appreciation for the goal and mission, that is likely to lead to problems that can potentially harm patients."
- Put yourself in the patient's shoes. Dr. Tetteh encourages perioperative professionals to put themselves in their patient's shoes at all times. "When you do that, you can gain a better understanding of what they are going through and can become more empathetic with their fears, concerns and anxieties. Because of our training, we tend to do that in a cursory way since we have so many patients and pressures concerning throughput. But when you pause and put yourself in their shoes, it becomes very apparent to you that you are taking care of someone who is in a very vulnerable position."
Dr. Tetteh says he gained greater empathy for patients after he personally experienced what it was like to be a patient. "I have been a patient a few times, including suffering from a significant illness that involved trauma and I nearly died. Those experiences, as well as my time spent as a combat trauma surgeon during multiple deployments,have engendered a different perspective for me that has helped inform my practice and insight. When one is a patient or provides care in a high-stress environment, you see the power of partnerships and their importance on full display."
Learn more from Dr. Hassan Tetteh, at the ASC Summit, where he will share his personal experience, both as a patient whose life was saved, as well as a physician who saves lives. His inspirational presentation will inspire you to redefine what it means to heal and reignite your passion when caring for your patients. Learn more.
Free Resource for Members
Guideline Essentials: Effectively communicate with your OR team with ready-to-use and customizable PowerPoint templates, competency tools, step-by-step instructions and videos, case studies, and more for the guideline on Team Communication.
AORN Journal Articles