Association for Academic Surgery Presidential Address—Fanning the Burnout Fire: How Our Misconceptions and Good Intentions Could Fail Tomorrow's Surgeons

Karl Y. Bilimoria*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The issue of burnout among surgical trainees became evident during our work on the FIRST Trial. In studying the issue, we found that burnout symptoms occurred in a relatively large proportion of surgical trainees, and burnout was associated with significant risks of having thoughts of leaving the residency program or having suicidal thoughts. The SECOND Trial seeks to reduce trainee wellbeing and mistreatment by leveraging approaches used in healthcare quality performance improvement (e.g., comparative reports, toolkits, collaboration). Importantly, the epidemic of surgical trainee wellbeing issues have worsened (i.e., fanning the burnout fire) given our misconceptions about generational differences, our delayed adaptations to shifts in healthcare, and even some of our good intentions. However, there are several things we can do to improve the situation: (1) embrace the change that comes with each generation; (2) appreciate, respect, and enjoy our trainees; (3) teach residents constructively, leaving yelling and bullying behind; (4) embrace the concept of wellness for ourselves and each other; (5) provide meaningful feedback and mentorship; and (6) give each other the benefit of the doubt (e.g., principle of charity). Despite these issues, academic surgery remains the best job in the world, and the strength of our profession, leaders, and colleagues will see us through these challenges. The Association for Academic Surgery will help lead the way on these important issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Attrition
  • Burnout
  • Culture
  • Discrimination
  • Duty hours
  • Harassment
  • Mistreatment
  • Residents
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Surgery
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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