Educating Nurses in Operating Room Environment

Subject: Nursing
Pages: 10
Words: 2744
Reading time:
11 min
Study level: College

Introduction: Patients’ Needs in the OR Environment


Working in the environment of an operating room (OR) invites a plethora of challenges for a nurse as the patients in the specified area are especially vulnerable to the effects of external factors. Particularly, the fact that the patients are exposed to the threat of staffing imbalance, the human factor, etc., which may trigger a significant drop in the quality of the services provided, needs to be brought up. Therefore, the issue regarding meeting the needs of the target audience has to be mentioned as a crucial part of any nurse’s job.

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The issue under analysis is especially important in the context of the intraoperative blood salvage process. By definition, the process requires that the nurse should be capable of registering the slightest changes in the readings of a plethora of devices. For instance, a recent study shows that the intraoperative blood salvage (IOS) in cardiac patients requires a proper management of cardiovascular implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) to detect the possibility of tachyarrhythmia (Neelankavil, Thompson, & Mahajan, 2013).

It is imperative, therefore, for a nurse to be able to identify the slightest changes in the patient so that the corresponding set of measures should be applied. In other words, it is crucial for a nurse to be capable of applying their EI skills in the environment of OR to identify the changes in the current situation by locating the expressions of the people involved in the surgical process (i.e., the surgeon themselves and their assistants). For these reasons, the application of the corresponding EI skills is imperative.

Problem Statement

The contemporary OR environment incorporates a range of challenges for a nurse, including the necessity to provide the corresponding services in a manner as timely and efficient as possible. In light of the fact that the significance of the patient-centered therapy has grown along with the need to improve the quality of nursing services, the significance of understanding the requirements and defining the further course of actions in an impeccably fast way has become a must among the contemporary nursing specialists. However, the threat of making an error is rather big in the designated area. A mistake in the OR environment, in its turn, puts the patient’s life in jeopardy because of the critical conditions that the process of surgery exposes the patient to.

Prompting a fast understanding of the requirements is, therefore, the current problem of improving nursing services in the OR environment. Despite the increasing significance of the emotional-intelligence-related skills in nurses, the acquisition thereof is a complicated process that needs strong guidance and efficient support. It could be argued that the development of an elaborate learning strategy will help nurses acquire the necessary skills related to EI. As a result, an impressive increase in service quality is expected due to the nurses’ improved ability to read the emotions of the OR process participants and provide adequate services in the process.

Goals and Objectives

The location of the current EI rates among nurses in the OR setting and the further identification of the approaches that will allow for an improvement in the designated area are the key goals of this term paper. As it has been stressed above, the gravity of the lack of EI skills among nurses is becoming an issue that needs a fast resolution. Hence, it is essential to evaluate the current state of affairs as far as the use of EI among OR nurses is concerned at present. In addition, the location of the strategies that will help enhance the use of EI among nurses is crucial for encouraging change in the target area, in general, and OR nursing, in particular. More importantly, the completion of the goal above will inform the further patient-centered therapy development.

To attain the goals above, one will have to complete the following objectives:

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  • Analyzing the factors that promote the acquisition of EI skills and hinder the development thereof among OR nurses;
  • Considering the current rates of EI use among nurses in the OR setting;
  • Defining the problems in the use of EI by OR nurses;
  • Identifying the strategies that may possibly help improve the current EI rates among nurses in the OR environment.

Methodology: Acquiring the Necessary Data

General Research as the Main Tool

To define the current rates of EI adoption in the OR setting, one will have to carry out an overview of the existing issues in the target area. In other words, a detailed analysis of the information represented in the latest studies on the issue of EI development in nurses, in general, and nurses working in the OR environment, in particular, will have to be conducted. The required information will be gathered from the papers dating 2012–2016 and distributed in accordance with the type of problems that nurses face, the methods that the rates of EI are increased in nurses with, the challenges that the latter face in the process, and the methods of managing these challenges.

Interviews: From Theory to Practice

In addition to carrying out a vast and all-embracive evaluation of the current studies on the subject matter, one should also consider the use of interviews as the methods of extracting the required data. Particularly, it will be necessary to review the approaches that nurses adopt to enhance the acquisition of EI skills by asking the target audience directly. The choice of an interview as the essential tool for data collection was predetermined by the necessity to locate the possible hindrances in the acquisition of EI skills. By asking nurses directly what they find the most challenging in the specified task, one is likely to locate the stumbling blocks that all OR nurses are bound to face and, therefore, design the approach that will assist in fighting these obstacles.

Literature Review

The concept of EI is typically referred to as the ability to identify one’s emotions and control them (Goleman, 2004). In nursing, the subject matter can be viewed as the tool for managing one’s emotions to provide the patient with the required amount of care and create the connection that would later on be used to design a strategy based on the principles of the patient-centered therapy. Therefore, EI is viewed as an essential tool for enhancing the quality of care by speeding up the process of surgery.

Researchers also point to the fact that the EI skills may also be required to address the emergent conflicts, including their prevention and resolution (Wafaa, 2012). In light of the fact that the OR setting inflicts a significant emotional strain on all participants involved, conflicts may spark, and wrong choices may be made as a result of these conflicts (Codier, 2012). Particularly, a surgeon may order a nurse to carry out a wrong course of actions; the nurse’s subsequent response may trigger a confrontation, the results of which will define not only the patient’s wellbeing but also possibly their life. Thus, a nurse may face the necessity to defend their position in front of the surgeon, which will require substantial diplomacy and EI skills (Choi & Koh, 2015). The means of training the specified skills, in their turn, are very numerous. For instance, training courses with the following series of tests are often suggested as the tools for the promotion of EI skills among the target audience.

It should be borne in mind that the application of EI implies the identification of five key domains, in which the leader of the organization must attain excellence. According to Goleman (2004), who, in fact, coined the term, the above domains include self-regulation, self-control, motivation, empathy, and social skill. Studies point to the fact that the promotion of self-regulation and self-control practices has already been carried out in the identified setting, the results inviting numerous opportunities for the further improvement of the service quality (Collins & Callahan, 2014). However, studies also outline the necessity of introducing a new element into the existing design of EI promotion among nursing specialists; particularly, the adoption of self-leadership should be viewed as a more favorable alternative to the self-regulation aspect of EI: “EI focuses on self-awareness and is primarily concerned with the ability to self-regulate emotions, while self-leadership focuses on the self-regulation of behaviours and thought processes” (Jooste, 2014, pp. 469–470). One must admit that the researchers’ reasoning is very convincing as it points to the necessity to advance the nursing staff in their further skills acquisition process to a new stage, at which they will be capable of regulating not merely their emotions but the entire thought process. It would be wrong to claim that the above approach dismisses the idea of promoting the EI concept of self-regulation among the nursing staff; instead, it suggests a new way of looking at the subject matter (Wafaa, 2012).

At this point, the necessity to develop strategic training skills that will inform the further development of a healthcare leader as an expert and the promotion of self-directed learning among the staff as the tool for enhancing knowledge acquisition needs to be mentioned (Ridgley, 2012). Although the nursing setting itself invites a plethora of opportunities for unceasing learning and the acquisition of new skills, nurses often need additional training sessions, which will serve as the source of information regarding the development of the necessary EI skills (Wilson, Gibbons, & Wolford, 2015).

Outcome: Learning Process and OR Patient Care

A study of the existing sources along with the data retrieved in the course of interviews has shown that nurses require consistent training that will help them not only acquire the corresponding EI skills but also keep them updated. According to the information retrieved from the interviews, 80% of the participants (96 people) mentioned the necessity to promote EI more actively in the modern nursing environment. Surprisingly enough, since the process of enhancing the principles of EI in the target environment has been going on for quite long, the effects thereof are still rather scarce. For instance, only 18% of the participants (22 people) claimed that the current nursing standards adopted at their place of work encouraged the use of EI-related skills.

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When answering the question regarding the sources of the EI skills acquisition, most participants (92%, i.e., 110 people) indicated a consistent lack of guidance from their managers. In other words, the absence of a coherent leadership strategy that could direct the nurses towards the acquisition of the corresponding skills should be viewed as the primary source of concern. Moreover, the interviews showed that the rates of empathy, which is an essential component of EI, are desperately low among the target audience. Particularly, only 17% (20 people) mentioned that they experienced the necessity to connect with the patients on an emotional level in order to understand their needs and nature thereof.

Last but definitely not least, the fact that time pressure was mentioned as the primary obstacle in developing the necessary EI skills and applying them in the OR setting needs to be brought up (98% or 118 people mentioned the problem). On the one hand, the time issue is quite understandable, as the OR setting requires fast thinking and the ability to identify the necessary course of actions in a manner as efficient and expeditious as possible. On the other hand, the time pressure is not to be viewed as an excuse for the poor service quality. Therefore, the current OR standards need a major update.

Current OR Standards and Practices

Although the general research carried out above has shown that there are a plethora of tools for improving the rates of EI among nurses, especially those working in the OR environment, the lack of the corresponding skills is still evident. The inconsistency between the current standards for nursing care in OR, which are admittedly high, and the actual state of affairs is rather upsetting. According to the interview outcomes and a brief analysis of the latest studies, the current standards, though promoting a focus on the patient’s needs, suffer from the lack of emphasis on empathy.

It is also remarkable that both the studies and the interview results have proven that EI rates do not increase with age and experience of nurses working in the OR setting (Snowden et al., 2015). Consequently, it would be unreasonable to assume that the mere process of communicating with patients and the OR staff will allow for a rapid increase in the EI skills and the acquisition of the corresponding competencies.

The promotion of EI in the OR setting is also carried out with the help of consistent training. Particularly, nurses are familiarized with the history of EI and the fifteen concepts that are typically associated with the subject matter (Mahani & Salehi, 2014). Researches point to the obvious efficacy of the specified tool as the strategy of encouraging nurses to develop the necessary skills and communicate with both patients and colleagues efficiently as well as learning to solve the conflicts emerging in the process. The specified tool can be viewed as the first step toward promoting EI in the target environment.

Emotional Intelligence as an Essential Concept

The significance of understanding the patient’s needs, as well as the instructions provided by the OR staff, is critical to the overall success of the surgery, and the following recovery of the patient can hardly be underrated. The specified issue has an especial gravity in the context of the nursing area (Goleman, 2004).

Tools for Promoting Emotional Intelligence

Reinforcing the process of EI acquisition is crucial to the further promotion of patient-centered care in the OR environment, which serves as the boost of quality standards. Among the latest approaches used for the purpose of improving the EI, the adoption of an appropriate nursing leadership style needs to be brought up first. Fostering healthy work principles among nurses, a strong leadership approach is likely to empower nurses for the further acquisition of the corresponding EI skills. For these purposes, the adoption of a transformative leadership strategy must be viewed as a necessity (Cox-Kelley, Justice, Waller, & Johnson, 2013). According to the existing definition, the transformative leadership approach permits to redesign people’s concept of professional responsibility and, therefore, serves as a perfect foil for encouraging nurses to train the newly acquired skills and apply them to the environment of an operating room.

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When carrying out the training process, however, one must bear in mind the significance of maintaining the job stress rates comparatively low among nurses. There is no secret that workplace burnouts are very common in nurses in the contemporary OR setting: “Given the inevitability of job stress in a nursing environment, authorities in charge should plan on improving the working conditions and training techniques” (Farahbod, Chegini, Eramsadati, & Mohtasham-Amiri, 2015, p. 218). More importantly, the strategy helps the target audience develop the sense of responsibility required to deliver the nursing services of the finest quality.


Summary: The Lessons Learned

According to the study outcomes, the promotion of EI strategies, as well as strategic thinking in the environment of the contemporary OR setting among nursing staff, leaves much to be desired, primarily because of the lack of the proper leadership. As a result, the nurses lack empathy and, therefore, fail to focus on tending to the needs of the client and acting on behalf of the patient.

A range of scholars agree that the promotion of EI starts with the introduction of the five foundational concepts of the subject matter into the designated environment. Therefore, it is imperative that the nursing staff should learn to both develop strategic thinking skills and work on their ability to empathize with the patient, also developing self-control abilities. The specified process, however, needs the incorporation of the tool that will spur the development of the required qualities and allow for a consistent training of EI skills in nurses.

Recommendations: Implications for Further Research

Based on the research findings, there is a strong need in designing the training program that will shed some light on the use of EI in nursing. It is desirable that the stress should lie on the efficient use of time in the OR setting so that the nurse could be resourceful and identify the required course of actions within a comparatively short amount of time. Thus, the quality of nursing services in the OR environment can be upgraded. In other words, the introduction of an elaborate training program that will help nurses discover the significance of EI in the OR setting is an obvious necessity.

Reference List

Choi, J. I., & Koh, M. S. (2015). Relations of job stress, burnout, mindfulness and job satisfaction of clinical nurses. International Journal of Bio-Science and Bio-Technology, 7(3), 121-128. Web.

Codier, E. (2012). Emotional intelligence: Why walking the talk transforms nursing care. American Nurse Today, 7(4), 1-3. Web.

Collins, S., & Callahan, M. F. (2014). A call for change: Clinical evaluation of student Registered Nurse Anesthetists. AANA Journal, 82(1), 65-72.

Cox-Kelley, S., Justice, M., Waller, L. R., & Johnson, G. (2013). An exploration of emotional intelligence and job performance among nurses in rural Texas. American International Journal of Contemporary Research, 3(7), 1-6.

Farahbod, F., Chegini, M. G., Eramsadati, L. K., & Mohtasham-Amiri, Z. (2015). The association between social capital and burnout in nurses of a trauma referral teaching hospital. Acta Medica Iranica, 53(4), 214-219.

Goleman, D. (2004). What makes a leader? Harvard Business Review, 82(1), 82-91.

Jooste, K. (2014). Nurses’ experiences on their self-leadership during a leadership development programme. African Journal for Physical, Health Education, Recreation and Dance (AJPHERD), Supplement 1:2, 467-483.

Mahani, S. A., & Salehi, S. (2014). Effect of emotional intelligence training on the communication skills of final-year nursing students. Health Education and Health Promotion (HEHP), 2(2), 1-9.

Ridgley, S. K. (2012). Strategic thinking skills. Toronto: The Great Courses.

Snowden, A., Stenhouseb, R., Youngc, J., Carverd, H., Carverd, F., & Brownd, N. (2015). The relationship between emotional intelligence, previous caring experience and mindfulness in student nurses and midwives: a cross sectional analysis. Nurse Education Today, 35(1), 152-158.

Wafaa, G. A. (2012). Caring and effective teaching behavior of clinical nursing instructors in clinical area as perceived by their students. Journal of Education and Practice, 3(7), 15-27.

Wilson, J. T., Gibbons, S. W., & Wolford, K. (2015). Process improvement: Addressing attrition from the uniformed services University of the Health Sciences Nurse Anesthesia Program. AANA Journal, 83(5), 351-356.