When I first entered the CSC operating room (the ‘OR’), I felt unsure and out of place. I had never seen an operating theatre with three operating tables let alone three operating teams working simultaneously on three separate patients. As I approach the end of my time at CSC, I will miss the thrill of being in the OR on a busy day and helping to assist with an operation which I’d never seen before. I’ll also especially miss seeing the teamwork and camaraderie between Khmer staff which I’ve grown accustomed to during my time here.
Every day, around a dozen patients, young and old, wait with their families outside the OR for their name to be called. After they’ve been assessed by the pre-operative team, they’re given the green light to enter the OR. Inside the OR, they’re in the hands of the friendly anaesthetics team, who ease their worries as they give them the medications essential for their surgery. Putting patients at ease is an often-overlooked part of surgery, yet it is so important at CSC for the young patients which they care for. Even with my limited understanding of the Khmer language, I can understand the warmth and smiles which the anaesthetics team use to calm their young patients.
Once the patient is under anaesthesia and ready for their operation, it is now the time for the surgical team to shine. Each surgical team is usually formed by a senior surgeon, a scrub nurse and number of surgical trainees. During the procedure, the senior surgeon points out different parts of interesting anatomy and demonstrates techniques to help the trainees learn. Trainees, in turn, help the surgeon with tasks during the surgery and get the opportunity to ask questions about things which they may previously only have seen in textbooks or medical school. A key cog which keeps the wheel of the operation moving is the scrub nurse. They work with the surgeon during the operation to make sure that the correct tools for the job are available, whether these may be hammers and screws for orthopaedic procedures or precise scalpels and forceps for delicate microsurgical procedures. They often anticipate what may be needed before anyone else from the surgical teams even says it out loud. Together all these different individuals work together to complete the surgery and to ultimately help improve a patient’s life.
Getting to observe the teams at work at CSC has truly been a privilege. I’ve seen patients with injuries which I previously could not have imagined, and I’ve seen the whole CSC team come together to find a way to improve their quality of life. Their ability to work together and solve problems has been inspirational and something which I will try to apply in my own medical career.