Life in the Co-Operating Room

ORs are dominated by intricate social subcultures, such as embedded hierarchies and gender dynamics that both fuel and alleviate conflict.

A study observing social exchanges in 200 surgeries found there was more cooperation in the OR when the attending surgeon worked alongside mostly co-eds, rather than colleagues of the same gender.

Gynecology departments—staffed mostly with women—showed the highest level of cooperation, while male-dominated cardiothoracic surgical teams were the most conflict-ridden. While some tension may be welcome in the OR, medical schools would do well to identify relationships that “tend to be more volatile in medicine,” said lead study author Laura Jones.


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