Refining Operating Room Communication: Creating a Culture of Improved Teamwork for the Future of Perioperative Nursing

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Peter Taylor


As a nurse and manager in the operating room of a metropolitan hospital I consider myself fortunate to be in the job of my dreams. I am proud to be in an environment that delivers the best care to a population that is worldwide. The challenges in delivering this level of care, however, are significant. The issue of communication and teamwork among the various disciplines in the operating room proves to be one of the most complex issues at hand. The operating room environment is wrought with stress both implicit and explicit, and presents formidable obstacles that interfere with effective team dynamics. Operating rooms have a long standing culture of silence and hierarchy that alienates disciplines from one another (Edmondson, 2003; Weeks, 2004). Though each professional on the team has spent years refining their respective skills, few have had training that enables them to address an offending remark or appropriately handle a disagreement in this environment. Bystander apathy contributes in potentiating problems where individuals keep quiet; each thinking another will address the offending issue at hand. To make matters worse, the doors close and hours can pass before surgery ends and the team can disperse, making it harder still to speak up. These factors result in passivity and indifference adversely affecting communication, teamwork and collaboration. The Critical and Creative Thinking Graduate Program has allowed me to navigate a path toward realizing my mission of improving the culture of teamwork and communication in the operating room. Using the philosophical, critical, cognitive and creative spheres as lenses through which to view this challenge, I was able to evaluate and incorporate a number of communication and teambuilding strategies that have helped me achieve solid progress in this journey. A positive culture shift in this environment is possible and I have taken my first steps. Most importantly, my own self reflection has taken place during this process and I now possess new tools that will allow me to face the daily problems and challenges in my work and in my life with renewed confidence. I now see a whole new world of possibility!


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