When I was training, my attending shared the story of her very first day. Her first case involved an obese patient, steep trendelenburg, the table tipping over and her catching the patient as they slid off. It was something that stuck in the back of my mind until the day of my first job. I drove in praying that everything would go smoothly. I saw my assignment. Knee scopes all day! Thank goodness for no trendelenburg.
We all want to make a good impression when we first start working with a new group. It’s just not the first day that we want to appear competent in front of our new peers, but weeks and months. Integrating into the group takes time and those early experiences we share create the story of who you are and the expectations others have of you as an anesthesia provider. Those experiences we create will impact our rapport with the perioperative staff, opportunities for us to advance, and our overall happiness going to work everyday.
So how do you set yourself up for success? Follow these 4 easy steps and you will be well on your way to building traits that will make you a rock star in the group.
It’s not hard, but you would be surprised by how many people do not introduce themselves when they are new. Say hello to everyone – the nurses, the techs, the janitors, and especially the surgeons. Introduce yourself with your name and title and when meeting with a surgeon for the first time discuss their needs for the case. You are an anesthesia provider which means you are a leader within the OR when it comes to the patient care. People will not follow a nameless leader.
Continue the practice everyday of saying “Hello” or “Good morning.” It should never stop. It builds a sense of team and people will connect with you. Although it’s not your primary reason for saying “Hello” it also puts another cheerleader in your corner. And make sure to go out of your way to say hello to new people in the perioperative area. They remember the moments when someone made them feel welcome when they first started. I am sure you do.
2. Be “Available”
There are so many ways to be available and they all lead to your peers appreciating and respecting you. Being part of a team means helping out for the betterment of the department. If someone calls out, is not feeling well and needs to go home early or has an appointment to make, volunteer to cover them. I am not saying volunteer every time, unless you want to, but stepping up when you can shows you are there to help.
If you have down-time ask the person in charge of the board if you can help with breaks, pre-oping patients, or whatever they need. Before going home at the end your shift, ask them if there is anything that you can do for them before you leave. Also, step into a room where you know a colleague has a difficult case and ask if they need anything. Just asking can make them feel comforted knowing someone has their back and one day they will have yours.
3. Be “Accountable”
Do you know a person that always follows through on everything? How about the person you cannot count on? Who would you rather work with? People want to be with anesthesia providers they know will do the job to the end. And that does not just mean completing a case safely. It entails doing paperwork properly, following directions or requests, following up on test results, giving a proper hand-off report and, most importantly, doing what you said you would do. Anesthesia leadership quickly recognizes whether or not they can rely on you and that acknowledgement will help you down the road.
Accountability also means acknowledging when you have messed up or have not been able to follow through on a task successfully. Blaming others, covering up your mistakes or denying it was your fault can destroy your credibility. We all make mistakes, but it is how we handle them that paints a picture of our character. Be honest, be contrite and learn from the experience.
4. Never stop being grateful
Just like saying “Hello” to everyone, consider the power of saying “Thank you.” You have lots of reasons to say thank you when you first start at a new facility. You are in a new environment and there is so much to learn and your new team will be there to help you. Any questions they answer for you, any advice they give you, any breaks they give you, any directions they give you, say “Thank you.” Not “OK” or “Got it.” They feel appreciated knowing they helped you when you say “Thank you”.
“Thank you” is powerful in building those relationships in your everyday practice. There are so many people to thank at the end of your day. Thank the OR team for their help. Always thank your anesthesia tech. Say ‘Thank you” to your attendings and attendings say it to the providers you are covering. Tell them “Thank you” for a great day or “Thank you” for helping during that airway disaster. Being grateful will bring out the best in others, promote a better workplace and cement your role in the minds of others as a core member of the anesthesia group.