Update on the Personal and Professional Well-Being of Surgical Residents in New England

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Article, Peer-reviewed

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Background: Surgical culture has shifted to recognize the importance of resident wellbeing. This is the first study to longitudinally track regional surgical resident wellbeing over 5 years.

Study design: An anonymous cross-sectional, multi-institutional survey of New England general surgery residents using novel and published instruments to create three domains: health maintenance, burnout, and work environment.

Results: Overall, 75% (15/20) of programs participated. The response rate was 44% (250/570) and 53% (133/250) were female, 94% (234/250) were 25-34 years old, and 71% (178/250) were in a relationship. For health maintenance, 57% (143/250) reported having a primary care provider, 26% (64/250) had not seen a primary care provider in 2 years, 59% (147/250) endorsed being up to date with age-appropriate health screening, however, only 44% (109/250) were found to actually be up to date. Only 14% (35/250) reported exercising greater than 150 minutes/week. The burnout rate was 19% (47/250), with 32% (81/250) and 25% (63/250) reporting high levels of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization, respectively. For both program directors and attendings, 90% of residents reported they cared about resident wellbeing. 87% of residents believe it was acceptable to take time off during the workday for a personal appointment, while only 49% reported they would personally take the time.

Conclusions: The personal health maintenance of general surgery residents has changed little over the past five years, despite an overwhelming majority of residents reporting attendings and program directors care about their wellbeing. Further study is needed to understand the barriers to improvement of resident wellbeing.