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The 2nd Annual Paula Awards
Once again, it’s time to recognize surgery’s not-so-obvious stars.
Paula Watkins, RN
Publish Date: September 19, 2022   |  Tags:   Opinion
Paula Awards

The Paula Awards are back, arguably the most prestigious satirical awards presentation in all the trades. It’s fitting, isn’t it? After all, the bulk of this magazine’s September issue is always dedicated to the OR Excellence Award winners, the overachieving surgical professionals who go above and beyond to make surgery better for all involved. The editors of this publication do a fine job covering all the major categories in our field, but they’re missing some of the more subtle standouts. That’s where I come in. So without further ado, let’s reveal this year’s winners:

Best Actor in a Lead Role goes to that supremely talented clinical supervisor who, like Meryl Streep, can transform herself into a myriad of different characters in an instant. Each of the roles and personas she tirelessly embodies is part of a masterful strategy to get the most out of her OR team — no matter how burnt out or short-staffed that team is.

Best Picture goes to The 5-Minute Turnover. In this action-packed thriller, a rag-tag cast of OR idealists are given a seemingly impossible mission from the top brass: Turn over a room following a lengthy gallbladder case in five minutes or less despite all the onerous protocols that were added in the post-COVID era. It’s like watching the “over the wall pit crew” at the Indianapolis 500 working on their best day as this turnover team leaves you on the edge of your seat until they remove the last bag of trash seconds before the next patient is rolled into the room.

Best Choreography goes to that circulator in the room who glided right through that code. He gathered more staff and stuff in the first minute than some could in 10, all without missing a beat. It was like watching Mozart on the piano … or so I’ve heard (I’m not that old, readers!). His balancing skills can only be likened to a tightrope walker jitterbugging on the highest aerial.

Best Supporting Actor goes to the vendor who showed up before we used his equipment on a recent gynecology case. Of all the places I’ve been in my career — and I’ve been in ORs from Seattle to Scranton — I’ve never seen a futuristic device like he had, let alone used it on a patient. That vendor sure saved my backside during that case, and I believe that his help warrants a Paula — and a stiff drink on my dime. Call me if you’re reading this, Mr. Rep. You know who you are.

Best New Artist goes to the green scrub tech who kept his mouth shut and didn’t contribute to the political banter going on during a lengthy gallbladder removal. In the OR and at dinner, it’s best not to discuss politics or religion. This is especially true when you’re being held captive on an on-call case that should have ended an hour ago, but that’s a story for another column.

Outstanding Comedy Series goes to the masked caregivers who can speak volumes of sarcasm by using only their eyes. Like a Charlie Chaplin film, these comedic virtuosos can tickle every inch of your funny bone without uttering a single word.

Best Director for a drama series goes to that special charge nurse with an uncanny ability to make miracles happen with limited resources. She can manipulate the schedule and produce a room and staff — seemingly out of thin air. Like they say in the biz, a good director finds a way to get the best out of their actors, and this nurse always finds a way to get transcendent performances out of her team. OSM