Career & Lifestyle Satisfaction among Surgeons

Career & Lifestyle Satisfaction among Surgeons

Posted on August 5, 2009

I came across an interesting survey in the latest issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. A total of 895 board-certified surgeons were surveyed about their practice, their work hours and the levels of personal satisfaction about their practice, lifestyle and factors that might influence these perceptions.

Here are some of the findings:
– 80% were men, with an average age of 46.
– the average surgeon works 64 hours per week. Most would prefer to work less; about 50 hours per week.

Here’s the troubling news:
– 15% were dissatisfied with their careers.
– 33% said they did not have a good balance between work and their personal life.
– 40% would not recommend a career in surgery to their own children.
– 90% believed their lives and levels of career satisfaction could be significantly improved by diminishing litigation (medical malpractice / frivolous lawsuits)

Interestingly, these attitudes were consistent across different generations of surgeons. Generation X surgeons did not have different responses than “baby boomer” era surgeons.

As a surgeon, I fully understand and appreciate these issues. Surgery is a very demanding career choice. There’s a lot of responsibility, 24/7. It can be wonderful, however, when people appreciate the efforts you’ve made for them – a big smile or a simple “Thanks, Doc!” from an appreciative patient can make your day.

To keep up with the aging population, we’re going to need more surgeons. A surgeon shortage is already predicted, as currently working surgeons retire without replacements. These issues of career satisfaction, work hours, and litigation need to be addressed at a systemic level.


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