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Are Surgeons Happy

author
Ellen Grant
• Friday, 11 December, 2020
• 9 min read

The study was led by Dr. Name Ahmed, a trauma surgeon at St. Michael's Hospital, at a time when both the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Canadian Medical Association have reported a decline in the number of general surgeons due to low recruitment, poor retention and early retirement. “ Surgeons we surveyed had a passion for their work that made the long hours involved inconsequential,” Dr. Ahmed said.

happy surgeons success operating procedure discussing royalty operation room
(Source: dreamstime.com)

Contents

Contributing to career dissatisfaction were such things as insufficient access to and control over resources and a perceived disconnect between hospital administration and clinical priorities. One participant in the study commented: “All that everybody wants to do is to cut operating time because it costs the system money to run the OR.

General surgeons in urban areas cited in particular frustration due to lack of access to OR resources during daylight hours and the routine practice of delaying urgent operations. Dr. Ahmed said a potential solution to some issues raised in her study may be the evolving model of acute care surgery.

This model separates emergency and elective surgical care, thereby eliminating the competition between the two services for institutional and human resources and decreasing the burden of work on any one general surgeon. An increasing number of Canadian general surgery residents were also failing to complete their training programs.

The poll isn't scientific, but it offers interesting insights into what your doctor does outside the office, clinic, and hospital. Rheumatologists -- specialists in arthritis, joints, muscles, and bones -- topped the list with an average self-reported happiness rating of 4.09.

They were followed closely by dermatologists (4.06), urologists (4.04), ophthalmologists (4.03), and emergency medicine doctors (4.01). They rated their happiness at 3.88 -- hardly unhappy, but trailing the pack.

surgeon happy featurepics work
(Source: www.featurepics.com)

A clue comes from doctors' financial report card: 61% of those in practice say they have adequate or more than adequate savings for their stage of life, while only 7% say they are in unmanageable debt. When asked to rate their own health on a five-point scale, dermatologists report being the healthiest of all doctors with a 4.23 average rating.

This may be linked to how much time doctors find for exercise. Even when they are in their 20s, over half of doctors say they exercise less than twice a week.

By age 41 to 50, more doctors are taking their own advice, and the fraction exercising less than twice a week drops to 40%. When it's vacation time, both male and female doctors like to go to faraway places.

Just over half of doctors limit their alcohol intake to less than one drink a day. Continued Time off work doesn't always mean fun.

Meds cape surveyed 15,069 U.S. physicians across more than 29 specialties to compile the report. Only 27 percent of general surgeons said they were happy at work, which was lower than the percentage for plastic surgeons, ophthalmologists, oncologists and orthopedists.

surgeons competent want staff surgery they appeal surgeon turnovers cases start short
(Source: www.outpatientsurgery.net)

Outside of work, 57 percent of general surgeons said they were very or extremely happy, taking the No. General surgeons said too many bureaucratic tasks such as charting and paperwork (49 percent), along with lack of respect from administrators and others (42 percent) and insufficient compensation (36 percent), contributed the most to their burnout levels.

Contributing to career dissatisfaction were such things as insufficient access to and control over resources and a perceived disconnect between hospital administration and clinical priorities. One participant in the study commented: “All that everybody wants to do is to cut operating time because it costs the system money to run the OR.

General surgeons in urban areas cited in particular frustration due to lack of access to OR resources during daylight hours and the routine practice of delaying urgent operations. “The current generation is more family-centric and team-oriented and, while still achievement-oriented, is less interested in personal sacrifices to achieve career success or financial rewards,” she said.

Dr. Ahmed said a potential solution to some issues raised in her study may be the evolving model of acute care surgery. This model separates emergency and elective surgical care, thereby eliminating the competition between the two services for institutional and human resources and decreasing the burden of work on any one general surgeon.

In some areas of the United States, the survival of local hospitals is at risk, because without general surgeons, emergency departments cannot remain open and family physicians are left without a means to secure even basic surgical consultations. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission.

christmas merry surgeons prosperous orthopaedic clinics wish everyone coast staff happy gold
(Source: orthoclinics.com.au)

* * Respondents were entered into a sweepstake to win an Apple iPad 2 16 GB Wi-Fi Enabled Device awarded to 5 physicians. Surgeons did not differ from physicians in general and rated their top 5 pastimes as exercise/physical activity, reading, travel, cultural events, and food and wine.

In the Meds cape survey, about 66% of surgeons reported participating in some form of volunteerism, whereas one third rarely, if ever, volunteer. In the overall response to the Meds cape survey, the unhappiest physicians, according to self-rating, were those who didn't volunteer, followed by those who tutored or did counseling.

Of note, in a 2000 survey published in Archives of Family Medicine, physicians who viewed benevolence as a guiding principle in their lives reported greater professional satisfaction. Other specific groups mentioned were Habitat for Humanity, Boy Scouts of America, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), and Meals on Wheels.

A May 2011 poll by Rasmussen Reports found that 29% of US voters characterize themselves as both fiscal and social conservatives, and only 10% said that they are liberal in both areas. In the Meds cape poll, when asked about their political leanings, about 40% of surgeons defined themselves as being both socially and fiscally conservative -- a higher percentage than the general US population.

Only 14.1% of surgeons described their views as being liberal in both areas, which was only slightly ahead of the percentage of the leftward-leaning Americans in the Rasmussen report. When the data are broken down further, four fifths (81.7%) of surgeons say that they are fiscally conservative and only a little over one half (55.7%) describe themselves as social liberals.

surgeon positivism healthy doctor
(Source: www.dreamstime.com)

With an average of 13 paid vacation days per year, Americans do far worse than those in other developed countries (e.g., Italy, 42; France, 37; Germany, 35; United Kingdom, 28; Canada, 26; Japan, 25). A reflection of a generally higher income than the average American, surgeons top vacation choices are foreign travel, followed by beaches, luxury hotels and spas, road trips, and winter sports trips.

The surgeons and the average of all physicians who responded to this survey had the same rate of being currently married (81%) and divorced or separated (5.7%). In fact, the current US Census found a decrease in the percentage of married Americans over the past 40 years, from 72% in 1970 to just 48% in 2011.

This parallels a recent Pew Research Center finding that only 51% of US adults are currently married. The report also found that the current marriage rate for people younger than 30 years was only 20%.

Of interest, in the general Meds cape survey, nearly one half of all physicians in that same young age group reported being married. When self-reported happiness was examined according to marital status, the surgeons who responded to our survey followed suit: The highest scores were reported by those living with a partner, whether unmarried (3.83 on a 5-point scale) or married and whether in a first (3.9) or subsequent marriage (4.03).

The healthiest specialists by this self-rating were dermatologists, plastic surgeons, endocrinologists, orthopedists, and cardiologists. The 5 least healthy were general surgeons, psychiatrists, ob/guns, pediatricians, and critical care physicians.

surgeon smiling camera happy preview
(Source: www.dreamstime.com)

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2008 40% of US men were overweight and 32% were obese. Approximately 37% of surgeons reported being overweight, which was above the average of all physicians who responded to the survey.

Physicians need to address this directly when communicating with their patients -- why they choose to remain fat or to smoke -- so they can be credible.” According to the CDC, between 1999 and 2009 the percentage of men aged 18 years or older who met the 2008 federal aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening guidelines increased from 19% to 22%.

These guidelines recommend moderate to vigorous aerobic activity performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably spread throughout the week. Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.

Whether this greater amount of exercise in older physicians is a matter of free time or consciousness of aging cannot be determined from this survey. For both surgeons and all physicians, aerobic activities are by far the most common and equally popular exercises (over 70% for both).

Among write-in responses, surgeons expressed major interest in specific aerobic activities, including cycling, elliptical training, and running. Although the national quit rate has increased slightly over the past few years, according to a 2011 Harris Interactive poll, 18% of Americans still smoke.

surgery brain doctors microscope performing
(Source: www.dreamstime.com)

Among nonsmokers, physicians who answered our survey, including surgeons, lead the national pack. As reported in a 2010 Gallup poll, 67% of US adults drink alcohol, a rate that has been “remarkably stable” since this began to be tracked in 1939.

As of December 2011, a Gallup poll reported that 52.5% of Americans considered themselves to be thriving, 43.7% were struggling, and 3.7% were suffering. About 43% of surgeons in active practice who responded said that they had now or minimal savings for their age and stage of life, which is similar to the rate of struggling Americans and higher than the 39% reported by all physicians.

Such responses could reflect the more difficult economic climate for the younger generation of physicians. In our Meds cape poll, instead of asking about specific religious affiliations, we wanted to know whether physicians have a spiritual belief, regardless of active participation.

In the Pew report, however, men were significantly more likely than women to claim no religious affiliation: nearly 20% vs roughly 13%, respectively. Surgeons, according to our poll, were more ambivalent, with 18% being uncertain about how they would respond if they were told they had a terminal illness.

No surprise: The use of social media drastically decreases as the age of the surgeon increases. About 40% of those older than 61 years are not engaged in any social media; however, this percentage was higher among many other types of physician in this age group.

mohammed elahi dr surgeon doctor cosmetic plastic doctors ratemds toronto york physician
(Source: www.ratemds.com)

LinkedIn, the network that provides professional contacts and connections, is fairly consistently used by approximately 20% of surgeons between 31 and 60 years of age. Over 76% of the general surgeons who answered Meds cape's questions about citizenship were born in the United States, and about 9% came here as children.

Approximately 15% of the surgeons who responded came to the United States as adults, well below the rate of 26.3% for physicians overall that the Migration Policy Institute reported in 2007. In 2011, the top 3 highest-selling cars in the United States were made by non-US companies: Toyota, Nissan, and Honda, with Ford coming in fourth.

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