15. A 25-Year Single Institution Analysis Of Health, Practice and Fate Of General Surgeons
Bruce A. Harms, MD, Charles P. Heise, MD*, Jon C. Gould, MD, James R. Starling, MD
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
A paucity of data exists regarding the health and practice of surgeons post-residency. This report analyzes nearly three decades of surgical residents from an established training program in order to carefully define individual outcomes.
110 of 114 (97%) former general surgery residents (1978-2002) were contacted. Detailed direct interview or phone contact was made with former residents to ensure confidentialy. There were 101 males, 13 females, with 2 deaths (accident/suicide) and four lost to follow-up. 11% were non-practicing - 5 voluntarily (3 planned, 1 accident, 1 severe arthritis) and 2 involuntarily (alcohol/substance abuse). 94% were married/remarried with a 23% divorce-rate.
Major health issues (defined as cardiac problems, malignancies, major depression, etc.) occurred in 37% by age 50-60. l0% reported no exercise activity, while 75% exercise 3+ times/week. BMI increased from 23.9 ±1.5 to 26.6 ± 3.0 (p=.009) by age 50-60. Alcohol abuse was confirmed in 7.7% with an additional 5% reporting alcohol/substance abuse in spouse or children.
Major Minor 1-4/wk. >4/wk. Daily Rarely/Never
9 9 62 28 9 18
12 32 61 35 7.7 31
37 64 58 22 12 38
68% of surgeons reported no filed legal claims. Overall, 75% of surgeons surveyed were satisfied with their practice/career.
Despite high job satisfaction, surgeon health is compromised in 30-40% of surgeons aged 50-60, with 11% voluntarily or involuntarily retiring. Alcohol abuse occurs in 7.7% of surgeons. Following residency, surgeons should be informed of important health and practice issues frequently not examined during the course of surgical training.