Human beings rarely, if ever, succeed at accurately perceiving their own culture.
So deeply entrenched is culture that no one talks about it: the unspoken rules and behaviors (called norms) are never written down, and yet everyone knows them. We learn these norms the hard way through the process of assimilation into a culture. For example, when Shelli was a new scrub nurse with only six months experience, she failed to anticipate that the surgeon would need a particular scalpel. Immediately, her experienced preceptor deftly handed the correct blade to the impatient surgeon with a glare in Shelli's direction. At that moment, Shelli learned that if she was not on top of the surgeon's needs, she would end up feeling embarrassed and looking incompetent. Shelli did not find this information in her orientation manual.
Culture also determines what we see – and what we don’t. Scrub nurses do not innately “know” which surgeon tolerates technical questions or joking and which ones do not, or what subjects are acceptable to talk about among their team. They figure this out. Humans quickly pick up on these subtle cues and then act accordingly. Like any group, operating teams learn norms by induction and trial and error because the need to belong is so strong. So without a conscious thought (whether scrub nurse, anesthesiologist, tech or surgeon), we mimic the behaviors of those around us in order to be accepted. After a while, no one even notices the subtle, unspoken rules. And why would they? Everyone exhibits the same behaviors. The norms are now downloaded into our subconscious mind.
To read the full article, http://www.juiceinc.com/Cultural_Chains_Kathleen_Bartholomew.pdf
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