Urologists discuss their music preferences for the OR

November 13, 2020
Karen Nash

Karen Nash is a medical reporter and media consultant based in Monroeville, PA.

"I listen to whatever my staff actually wants to listen to, except I say ‘no rap’ " says one urologist.

Urology Times® reached out to 3 urologists (selected randomly) and asked them each the following question: Do you listen to music in the operating room? What kind?

“I do listen to music and the type depends on what I’m doing. If I’m doing a high-stake portion of a case where I want my heart rate down, I actually listen to—I don’t even know what the genre is—but it’s what you listen to when doing yoga. So if my heart rate is going up and I’m doing something like dissecting abdi vena cava or dissecting out a vaginal canal for gender affirmation surgery, I will use something like Pure Focus or a meditation mix.

Otherwise, indie rock is mostly what I listen to. That’s kind of my wheelhouse. Indie rock is my favorite by far. I would say in the last 5 years, my favorite is a group is one called Bon Iver.

If you ask me what music adds to the operating room, I would have to think. It’s a really good question. It calms me down and it shields me from a lot of the noise that could be distracting. My focus is reconstructive surgery and 80% of my practice is transgender surgery.

I think music can alter my emotional state and put me in a better frame of mind that lets me see more possibilities.”

Chris McClung, MD

Columbus, Ohio

“I listen to whatever my staff actually wants to listen to, except I say ‘no rap’—whatever they like—but no rap, and we’re okay. Usually during my robotic cases, we listen to music. They plug in their iPhones or the smartphones and stream whatever service they have, or whatever playlists they have, which is mostly classic rock, contemporary rock, some country.

I have some input, but they play what they want to play because if they’re happy, I’m happy.

Music keeps everything a little bit lighter in the OR. Silence can make the day drag on and increase stress levels. Music has been shown to decrease stress levels. Having it on all the time is good.“Usually, they play a mix of music, so most of what they play I like. I have a very diverse taste in music. I listen to blues, rock-and-roll, old stuff new stuff, country—more of a country rock. If I were to say who my favorite is—I’d have to say, it’s the group Boston. They came out with their first album in the 70s, and it’s probably my favorite album.

To be honest, nobody ever really chooses Boston for the OR, but I like a lot of music. If I’m sick of something I’ll tell them, but that rarely happens. They’re all younger, in their 20s and 30s. When I’m doing robot cases, I generally have the same crew. I know they want to listen to rap. They’ll start talking about a song, but they’ll say, ‘you wouldn’t like it.’ I’ll ask, ‘why? Because they drop F-bombs and call women derogatory names?’ They say ‘yeah,’ so there you go. I have 2 daughters so why would I want to listen to music when they talk that way?”

Vicken Chalian, MD

Bloomington, Illinois

“I do listen to music in the OR. Honestly, I let my scrub tech and circulating nurse pick whatever they want to listen to. I’m not very picky.

I probably let them choose as an overall morale thing. I’m just not really very picky provided that it’s nothing too intense. As long as it’s regular music, I can listen to just about any genre, so I let them decide as a morale booster. The kind of music depends on who’s in the OR with me. We usually listen to a radio station. Sometimes it’s a country station, sometimes it’s pop. I listen to all sorts of music: 80s, 90s, country. I’m good with any of them.

My favorite artist is probably Michael Jackson, not that he comes up often on the stations we listen to.

I think music in the operating room relaxes everybody. I think if everybody is in a high tense mood, it makes the case harder and mistakes get made. If people are relaxed, they are more communicative and we seem to have a better flow. I think music leads to better results. I don’t think there are any studies on that, but I feel we get in a better flow. Overall, the days we listen to music versus the days we don’t, we just seem to get better results in the end. It just seems to be a better day.”

Adam Ylitalo, DO

Waco, Texas

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