Surgery supervisor know how to adapt with flexibility
story and photo by James Coburn, Staff Writer
When Gordon Butler went to nursing school in western Kansas, he played football while earning his Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree. His life has always been well balanced with a sense of direction.
He was a team player then and having that same team spirit serves him well as a nurse.
Today his life is active in a different way as he serves as supervisor for the surgery department at OU Medical Center Edmond. He’s been a nurse for a little over four years and he is currently working on his MBA from Fort Hays University, the same school where he earned his undergraduate degree.
Butler has worked at OU Medical Center in downtown Oklahoma City, but transitioned to the Edmond campus about a year ago.
“I’ve always been in surgery but I’m new to management. This is my first supervisory role,” he said. “My goal has been to work my way up and hopefully get into administration.”
His work day typically includes starting his work day at 7 a.m. He is responsible for the staffing needs of each operating room and the placement of surgeries in those operating rooms. He helps the physicians know where their patients are in the coordination process of each surgical event.
“I coordinate the flow of the OR, kind of like a air traffic controller at an airport,” Butler explained.
The rooms are always changing with different surgeries requiring nurses and techs, he said. Butler coordinates this effort to make certain they have their appropriate teams, he said.
“It’s a lot of chasing down doctors. Generally they’re around, but right now we’re incorporating a bar tracker, it’s basically a monitor. We’re still mostly working off a dry erase board that we constantly change and update. I update that and notify the staff if their case has moved or if the surgeon needs help,” Butler said.
He also serves as an extra pair of hands to scrub in. He will circulate to do whatever needs to be done with transport needs, Butler continued.
“I help keep the flow of the OR going until the case is done,” Butler said.
He chose the field of surgery because of it’s fast pace that keeps him on his toes. Patients are added on to the spectrum of daily activities at any moment. Someone my need emergency surgery such as a laparoscopic appendectomy, he said. So Butler needs to get hold of the surgeon to let him know of scheduling adjustments.
“I need to get hold of the anesthesiologist. It’s all problem solving,” Butler said. “The anesthesiologist needs to be right there. I need to find the nurse, the team to have their instruments full, their supplies full to do the surgery.”
“I like that aspect of it the most.”
Change is constant in the OR. He admires the nurses he works with for the flexibility. It’s not like an 8-5 p.m. job with a intransigent schedule. Lunch schedules change according to the patients’ needs.
“We may need them to come back and be willing to do something,” he said. “So their willingness is huge in the OR to keeping it going. There’s consistency whenever we get here at 7 a.m. in the morning, but most likely it will all be different as the day goes on.”
Butler says he likes the impact that OU Medical Center has on Oklahoma. That is why he stays with them. He believes OU Medical Center has a bright future.
“That is something that inspires me because I want to grow in my career. I want to get better as a nurse and get better for eventually what is the next step. I feel like OU Medical Center provides the most opportunities for people that grow.”
The nurses are grateful to work in a place where they see results in the OR right away. After a knee surgery is over Butler is satisfied knowing a person’s life has improved.
“We see immediate results,” he said.
He thought about becoming a doctor until somebody told him of all the opportunities a nursing career can offer.
But Butler is not a nurse every second of his life. He has his private life balanced with fun activities. Most of his leisure time is spend with his family, he said.
We have two little kids — a 2-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter.
“They like to run around the park and be crazy. We do a lot of bike riding. We go to the Zoo a lot.”