Archive November 2017 XVIII, No. 11

Behind Closed Doors: Creatures of Habit

The rituals and routines of an OR nurse.

Paula Watkins

Paula Watkins, RN, CNOR


safety pin

Whether it's driving the same route every morning or getting dressed in a certain order, we all have our rituals and routines that help us get through the day.

I come into work and go straight to the coffee pot. It's my third cup and it's only 0620. Oh, look: a new container of my favorite creamer. And so what if it comforts me to count the number of times I stir my coffee forward and backward.

Smiling, I walk into the locker room and open the first scrub cabinet door, only to be greeted with 3 empty shelves screaming, "Ta-da. NO SCRUBS!" Slamming the cabinet door shut, I mumble under my breath the same profanic words I said when the alarm went off 3 times this morning.

Opening each and every cabinet that houses scrubs, a pair of 4XLs seems to be the only option (other than going "necked"). Lucky for me, I have 4 big ol', honkin' safety pins in my locker for my daily game of sartorial nip and tuck.

  • pin No. 1 keeps the top from becoming a plunging neckline;
  • pin No. 2 reinforces the tie on the pants so that they don't come undone and plummet to the floor;
  • pin No. 3 goes through the pocket to keep my note cards and pens from falling out every time I bend over; and
  • pin No. 4 keeps the massive tent-like cover jacket together so that, if pin No. 2 holding my pants together should fail, the jacket coming below my knees will still protect what modesty I have left with this age.

Pillage and plunder
Time for the morning huddle by the schedule board. It's a mixed bag. Good news: I get to see what procedures I'll be working and who the surgeon, anesthesia provider and scrub tech will be. Bad news: I receive papers telling me what I screwed up in charting 2 weeks ago. That must have been the shift when I had 8 15-minute cases followed by the femoral neck and malleolar fractures on the right leg of that 97-year-old woman.

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