The Glory in the OR

The Glory in the OR

Dr. Bell examines the phenomenon that is the glory in the OR. There is no place or experience quite like the operating room. In the OR you shut out the world and nothing matters except keeping the patient(s) on the table in front of you alive. Behind the masks are physicians admired merely for the skills they possess. Performing a procedure is an art form where everyone works in cohesion putting the patient first. The operating room holds an incredible responsibility that shouldn’t be feared but embraced for all that it can accomplish through the teamwork of the physicians who call it home.

Some of the greatest people I have ever known, in several instances, are those whose names I never got to know.  I likely would not recognize them if I saw them out in public, or in their street clothes (they’ve all been wearing masks before it was considered a socially responsible thing to do).

A number have become friends for life, sisters and brothers I would do anything for.  In some cases, our time together may have been nothing more than the duration of a procedure, yet the admiration and respect they earned in our brief time together will exceed that of many individuals I have known for years.

The “Operating Room” has always held a place in our collective minds that encompasses everything from an aura of mystique, a place of dread, and where miracles occur.  What goes on behind those doors, where the sick go to be repaired, the dying for another chance at life, and the hurting to begin healing?  Why is an O.R. a place of reverence, something almost if not, sacred?  It is the people that work behind those walls that make this so.

It does not matter the location of the OR, and I have worked in my share.  Certain characteristics and traits are shared among those whose life is spent in a place that is cold and where no natural light is present.  Everyone in the OR staff, regardless of position, has a job to do.  Usually accompanied by any or all, a combination of fatigue, stress, hunger or thirst, and a need to use a bathroom!  

There is daily drama that can result in the compartmentalization of emotions, a self-defense mechanism to deal with situations that are only handled by the strongest among us.  Some might think this creates a hardness and this may be true, but if present, there is almost certainly an accompanying servant’s heart that is being protected.  

There is accountability.  There is compassion and empathy.  There is cooperation and a mutual respect unlike what you will find anywhere else.  There is no time for pettiness.  There is giving of self when it may seem that there is nothing left to give yet forever finding ways to give some more. 

There are too few instances of praise bestowed upon the staff, and too often they as individuals, may be deemed as replaceable.  It does not matter where you came from, your education level, your political beliefs, or any other way people are categorized on “the outside” of the OR.  If you are part of the team, you share your responsibilities, passion, successes, failures, and your life with everyone who walks through those doors each day.  

I only wish everyone could have the privilege and opportunity to work for any length of time in an O.R.  If this were the case, I am certain many of the world’s problems would not exist.  The OR and those who comprise it are the very embodiment of unconditional love. 


To read more of Dr. Desmond Bell's blog "The Script Pad" go to

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