Surgeons are typically charged with some of the most exacting demands in modern medicine and health technology, and often participate in complex and lengthy procedures that require a considerable level of concentration and focus. The trust that surgical clients place in their doctors as well as the personal drive to perform as precisely as possible lead to a strong motivation to do good work, but many surgeons may face exhausting schedules and emotional scenes that tax on personal well-being. In a field where this taxation extends not only to the surgeon but to their clients as well, mental health issues and overall burnout are taken seriously within the medical field. To help tackle the presence of such issues in today’s surgeons, a study supported by both Johns Hopkins University and the Mayo Clinic has recently been conducted and has published its results in the journal Annals of Surgery.
The study focused on a survey of nearly eight thousand surgeons who were asked a series of questions about their own well-being and any symptoms of burnout or other mental health concerns. The data showed that forty percent of responding surgeons reported feeling burnt out –an alarmingly high number given that the same surgeons noted they were more likely to commit errors during procedures when feeling this way. Around nine percent of the respondents reported making a major medical error in the past three months, as well.
Though working in the medical environment may improve access to mental health care, many surgeons may not seek such services for a variety of reasons, including stigma or the idea that getting through difficult periods unaided is the most desirable option. The study promotes colleague intervention and greater discussion about mental health among the surgical community.
© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.