Have you ever traveled to a foreign country where you didn’t know the language? Attended a business conference in a different industry where you didn’t understand the lingo? Switched from a job that requires professional dress to one that is torn-jeans casual or vice versa? All of these situations can make you feel uncomfortable, awkward and like you can’t fit in. You could inadvertently say or do the wrong thing, simply because you don’t know the rules.

The best way to handle this situation is to acclimate as soon as possible to the new environment. Learn the language. Study the jargon. Buy a new wardrobe. If you’re a new medical device sales rep or one entering the operating room for the first time, you may feel like you’re in an alien world. You’ll see faceless people in full gowns and masks and hear terms like “cellulostic,” “reposable” and “anatomical brush stroke scrub method.” ORs even have specific traffic patterns you must learn so that you don’t inadvertently cause contamination or interrupt the flow of a surgical procedure. It’s important to understand the rules and protocols in this sensitive environment. After all, a patient’s life may depend on it!

You Play an Important Role
Some hospitals have begun advocating for the removal of sales reps from the OR, but vendor reps are usually there at the request of the surgeon. The physicians know that they may need the rep to answer important questions about the device being used. The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) also understands the important role an industry rep can play. AORN states that “by virtue of their education, knowledge, and expertise, health care industry representatives have a valid, but restricted, role in the operative or invasive procedure setting.”

The better sales reps can fit safely into the environment and prove their value, the more likely it will be that hospitals will allow them to stay. Therefore, as a sales rep, it’s important for you to be prepared every time you enter an OR. As AORN puts it, you are “accountable to advocate for patient safety, workplace safety, and patient privacy.”

Follow the Rules
Below are some basic protocols to follow when in the OR:

  • Call for an appointment or set one through the ReptraxTM vendor credentialing system.
  • Check in at the Reptrax kiosk.
  • Arrive on time and be flexible.
  • Wear your Reptrax name badge.
  • Know your product.
  • Answer questions fully.
  • Understand and abide by patient confidentiality rules. (Take the Reptrax University HIPAA class.)
  • Abide by the organization’s policies. (The Reptrax system makes it easy to read and accept facility policies).

Reptrax UniversityTM offers an online course to help you orient yourself to the surgical environment. Orientation to the Operating Room for the Sales Professional will familiarize you with the physical environment, protocol and professionals who practice in the OR, as well as the aseptic practices and techniques used. You will also learn useful information that will help you interface with surgical professionals as you introduce your equipment for evaluation and/or in-service. By demonstrating thorough understanding of the environment, you will be well on your way to gaining acceptance by the surgeons, nurses and other healthcare workers in the OR.

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