Tips for Shadowing

  1. Please do not feel confined to shadowing in the OR. While admittedly the most glamorous portion of the field, surgery consists of more than just operations. You can learn just as much, if not more, by shadowing in clinic or by attending surgical conferences.
  2. Get in touch with your surgeon as soon as possible! Inform both the attending surgeon and his chief resident the date and surgery you will be seeing. Email the attending the day before, and page the chief resident when you get on the floor. Contact information can be found through the UVA internal people search (Netbadge login required):
  3. Get scrubs before going to the OR. Take the elevators in the main hospital lobby to floor 0 (basement). The scrub storage room will be directly ahead and to the right. Show the scrub managers your student ID and tell them the size of scrubs you need (S, M, L). Sign your name on the log in sheet. Make sure you return the scrubs and sign out after you are done shadowing. The gray OR scrubs CANNOT leave the hospital.
  4. Change in the OR locker rooms. After getting scrubs, take the same elevators to the 2nd floor. Turn left and walk straight down the hallway until you see a door that says “Staff Lounge”. After entering the room, the locker rooms will be immediately to your left. Change into your scrubs, and put on a cap as well as shoe covers (found on shelves in the locker room). Place your belongings under a bench so as to not block the lockers. Medical students do not get assigned lockers.
  5. Find your OR. The exit of the locker rooms leads to the ORs, each labeled with a number. If you do not know which room your surgery is in, ask the Control Desk. If you can’t find the room, ask anyone of the doctors/nurses in the hallway. Before entering the OR itself, you MUST put on a surgical mask, which are located right next to the scrub sinks on the wall.
  6. When you enter the OR, WEAR YOUR ID BADGE and INTRODUCE yourself to the nurses, scrub technicians and other staff in the room (extremely important, they are your greatest friend and resource). Tell them you are a 1st/2nd year medical student here to observe Dr. (whoever). If this is your first time in the OR, tell them so and ask them for guidance on what to do. Don’t hesitate to ask them if there is anything you can do to help.
  7. What NOT to do in the OR. DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING or ANYONE covered in blue towels/gowns (they are sterile). If you are not sure whether you can touch something, ASK! You can move around during the surgery to get a better view, just be aware of your surroundings so you don’t contaminate the sterile field.
  8. You’re ready! HAVE FUN! This is meant to be a low-pressure experience that hopefully breaks up the boredom of sitting in lecture or the library. Make the most of it!

UVA’s Protocols for Sterile Fields & Technique

Sterile (or ‘aseptic’) technique is about minimizing possible sources of infection. Sterility will apply to SELECT surfaces of objects or to substances that will be introduced into a patient’s body.  Some objects just don’t have the potential to be made sterile.  For example, hands can be made very clean but not sterile.  “Scrubs” from the locker room dispenser are not sterile, nor are surgical masks. In order to minimize potential sources of contamination, sterile surfaces must be segregated from non-sterile areas.

Sterile fields

On surgical personnel: The sterile surface extends from the FRONT OF THE CHEST to the WAIST and from the ELBOWS to the gloved FINGERS.  The rest of the body (i.e. face, back, legs) is not sterile.

On the patient: The sterile field consists of the body surfaces that have been wiped with Betadine (brown solution) and covered with sterile drapes. Note that the underside of the drapes are not sterile, as they come in contact with the non-sterile parts of the patient’s body

Orientation to the OR

Scrub Technique

Gowning and Gloving

Basic Suture Techniques 

Updated 3/11/2019