What I’ve Learnt: Theatres

Sterile fields

The sterile field you learn all about in clinical skills with your little dressing pack is nothing compared to the surgical theatre.

You will break that sterile field

And this is fine. Own up to it. Mentors are used to students doing this all the time and as long as you don’t try and hide it, they really don’t mind (much).

When poop hits the fan

It happens fast. Every surgery, no matter how simple will always have a number of risks associated with it, and while most of these only happen in rare circumstances, they can happen. What was amazing to see though was just how quickly the surgical team respond to these situations.

Opening packets

Part of the ‘runner’ role involves opening 60383 packages for the scrub team in a specific way to maintain the sterility of its contents. This can be difficult, particularly the big drapes, but gets easier over time and I’ve messed up my fair few and dropped things on the floor. If you’re unsure, ask the runner or nurse/ODP (even the assist) which is the best way to open something. Again, own up to any mistakes.

The uniform

I ♥ scrubs. Also, good luck finding clogs that fit.

Doing the WHO

Stand still and pay attention or risk the evil stare of the scrub nurse/ODP.

Putting kit together

I was based in orthopaedics, so we used a lot of different bits of kit, some of which had to be put together (and I can’t imagine this is just present in ortho). You won’t be able to do it all the time, but take the opportunity to have a fiddle with everything when it’s not in use.

Asking all the questions

What bone is that? What does that connect to? What does that mean? What type of plate is that? How will you put it in? Anything, just ask all of the questions. I watched a lot of procedures being done laparoscopically and it can be really difficult to visualise exactly what you’re looking at, so just ask. Most of the surgeons that I met were more than happy to answer anything and were willing to chat away about the procedure as they’re doing it because that’s their bread and butter. If they can’t or won’t, target the assist or scrub nurse/ODP. Exactly the same with anaesthetics.

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