Turns out rock is what the doctor ordered. While patients are sedated in the operating room (OR), surgeons are rocking out to the likes of Metallica, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and Scorpions. According to a survey conducted by Spotify and Figure 1, rock is the most popular genre of music surgeons listen to while operating (49%), followed closely by pop (48%), classical music (43%), jazz (24%) and R&B (21%)*.
Dr. Alan I. Benvenisty, a NYC-based vascular and transplant surgeon at Mount Sinai Health System, is known to play rock during his operations. “People’s lives are in my hands and listening to rock puts me in a comfortable place so my full attention is on my patients,” he says. “I listen to bands from my youth and the feeling of nostalgia brings me to a calm, focused place.”
According to the survey conducted on the free knowledge-sharing healthcare app, nearly all (90%) of surgeons and surgical residents listen to music in the OR, with the majority (89%) preferring playlists over albums. Almost one-third (31%) of these doctors have more than five playlists on rotation.
Doctors surveyed reported that music relaxes and calms them in the OR, helps improve mood and focus, and breaks tension when there are quiet moments. One surgeon stated, “It calms the nerves and improves staff morale.” Another added, “At times it keeps the room mellow and coordinated, and at other times it keeps the pace up.”
Musical selections in the OR aren’t just up to the medical team: Many surgeons also reported that they take requests. If the patient is awake, they have a say in the soundtrack. Said one doctor, “We do C-sections where the patients are awake. If they have a preference we go with what they want. If not, we have fun with it and play name that tune from old TV shows, old songs, etc.”
Rock is also popular for the medical professionals whose jobs are focused on putting patients to sleep during operations. Anesthesiologists, anesthesiology residents and certified nurse anesthetists report listening to rock (44%) when working, with only pop music (59%) edging out the genre for these sleep-specialists.
Of course, safety is always paramount. Survey participants reported that music is turned down during critical points in the surgery and when there are complications.
Below is a playlist of top rock songs that appear often on playlists of the surgeons surveyed:
* Methodology: On behalf of Spotify, Figure 1, a global knowledge-sharing platform for healthcare professionals, surveyed select registered users of its free mobile app throughout June 2017. Users were targeted based on surgical specialty and subspecialty with a request to share their listening habits in the OR. The 12-question in-app survey took an average of 6 minutes to complete, and 73% of respondents answered it on their smartphones. Nearly 700 surgeons and other healthcare professionals from more than 50 countries were represented in the survey, with the majority coming from the United States.