Check Your 'Tude at the Door

Posted: Mar 16, 2015
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Who you aim to be
Who you claim to be
Do you aim to be
Insane bane with me
Can you hang with me
Man claim strange with me
Then tell me who you came to see
Tech N9ne (Anghellic)

Recently a staff member asked me during a hemoabdomen how I pick the music that will play during any given procedure. I answered that it comes down to two things, 1. Who else will be in the room and 2. My mood. She laughed and replied that she’ll know I’m in a bad mood if she hears crunkcore rap. Au contraire! I was quick to point out that I do everything possible to leave any bad attitude at the door. It has no business in surgery.

What I actually meant by “my mood” was more along the lines of “If I hear one more Jack Johnson song I’m going to fall asleep.” A long and draining day will portend music with an up-tempo vibe (think Beastie Boys). If we have an extern in the suite and I haven’t made the time to discover their level of music appreciation, I will stay away from gansta rap. If there is a chance that the chief medical officer, who is also my boss, will spend significant time in surgery with us… well, let’s just say that Tech N9ne won’t make an appearance.

But I digress. My “aha moment” and the reason I’m writing this blog was my shock to think that someone believed I would go into surgery in a “bad mood.” Peace! I am not saying that I don’t ever have a bad mood. Heck, I may have more than my fair share. What I am saying is that there is a conscious effort on my part to literally leave that mood outside of surgery prep. Back when I first started doing surgeries on my own (around Prohibition era), I was so stressed about doing everything right that I simply didn’t have one brain cell to dedicate to being in a pissy mood. As I gained confidence, shelving everything extraneous to the patient became my foundation for surgical preparation. It is one of the great things about surgery that the rest of the world just has to wait until we come back out. Not only can I ignore all of my impending deadlines, overdue papers, frustrating clients, and perplexing histopathology reports for the length of the procedure, but I can let go of any twinges of annoyance, anger and grumpiness as well.

Full disclosure, it is possible for my mood to darken during surgery. But this will be related to only those things happening right in front of me like not having a sterile replacement for the right angled forceps that just slid off the table. Fact: It is always the intern’s fault if something sterile slides off the field, even if the intern isn’t scrubbed in with you.

So… what’s my point? HR would prefer that we leave any negative attitude outside of the building. I try to do that too, but sometimes the origins are waiting in my inbox labeled “BITE REPORT” or on my voicemail. My point is that whatever the root of your bad mood, leave it outside of surgery. Our patients require and deserve all of our attention. Don’t dilute your skills, knowledge and compassion with a bad mood.