ACLS: A Medical Harmony

Simulation room
My team in the simulation room.

by Meghana Kashyap, MS2 (Class of 2015)

When my Colleges mentor offered his tickets to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO), I could not pass up the chance to listen to live classical music for the first time since I started medical school. I was so excited to lock my left-brain in a dark corner of my apartment, and take my right brain out for a fun night in Dallas. Unfortunately, or fortunately, little Lefty broke loose and found me.

You see, the week before the concert MS2s had a recorded Skills Clinic for Colleges in which we learned how a team must work together to provide the best care possible in crisis management situations. Each member of our small group took on the role of the Team Leader, History Taker, Event Recorder, Airway Team Member, Circulation Team Member, or Equipment Team Member. The outcome for our patient, in this case a simulation center dummy, was dependent on each person executing his/her role in harmony with the rest of the team.

And there it is…harmony. The first word that came to my mind as the DSO began playing. Multiple musicians, playing the same notes on the same instruments or playing different notes on different instruments, performed in harmony. It immediately turned my mind to our Skills Clinic.

The conductor was the Team Leader, giving the cues of when a group of instruments should enter and keeping time, just as a Team Leader gives cues to each team member and keeps track of the time.

The oboist who plays a note to which all of the instruments are tuned was the History Taker, laying the foundation for the final outcome. The wind instrumentalists were the Airway Team Members and the string instrumentalists were the Circulation Team Members, providing the vitals that every symphony and patient needs for survival. The percussionists were the Equipment Team Members, providing the heartbeat without which the symphony and patient would not exist.

Last but not least, the audience was the Event Recorder assimilating every bit of music and information.

After realizing the amazing similarities between the DSO and a care team, little Lefty took a nap.

The first half of the concert was to showcase a very talented cellist, and the second half was the DSO without any soloist. At the end of the concert, during the five-minute long applause, little Lefty awoke and realized one last similarity. The DSO was not in its fullest form while the cellist was showcased.

Most of the first half was heavily focused on the string instruments and the cellist’s solos, while the second half incorporated every instrument in a balanced manner.

I personally preferred the second half for that reason, which is similar to how a care team must operate. The patient’s outcome is not dependent on one person shining in his/her role; rather, it is dependent on a balanced functioning of each member of the team working in harmony. (There’s that word again!)