What Surgical Teams Can Learn From Jazz

  • April 24, 2020

The demands of surgical operations are naturally stressful. And yet, very few cultures train surgeons, nurses, and technicians in “stress inoculation”, which is the art of understanding and managing individual physiology and energy.

Why “Energy” Matters in Medicine

In looking at other cultures that truly cultivate high performance, “energy” is an essential element in moving from average to exception. When an individual becomes aware of his or her energy levels and how that energy is projected into a team environment, there is a deeper awareness that allows for regulation and self-control, especially in crisis scenarios.

The demands of surgical operations are naturally stressful. And yet, very few cultures train surgeons, nurses, and technicians in “stress inoculation,” which is the art of understanding and managing individual physiology and energy.

In the military, whether serving on the ground, at sea, or in the air, the ability to be calm during combat is a learned skill. And, it is treasured not only for management of oneself, but to keep the surrounding team focused and calm. This same truth applies in professional sports and, especially, in the performing arts.

Using Music to understand “Energy” in a Surgical Suite

Harold O'Neal in Performance

Harold O’Neal spent a week observing surgical operations within the Arena Labs team. He was struck by the variance in energy levels between operating rooms. Some teams remained calm during stressful events, while others allowed energy and focus to slip away, even in cases that should have been “basic” or without pressure.

Harold created this video as an example of how “energy” changes teams.

As you watch this video, consider:

  • The speed and tempo in the first musical piece. A team can move fast while still being smooth.
  • Each piece as a surgical case. When something goes wrong or the tempo changes, how does the “energy” change?
  • Absorb the energy of the second piece. How do you react?