Okay, so this abstract is a bit more on the touchy-feely side. But it is extremely important because it speaks to the balancing act we all have to perform in order to achieve a satisfying harmony between work and everything else.
Older generations of surgeons threw nearly all of their energy into work, and ended up with lesser amounts of involvement with their family and everything else outside of work. At the time, , though, people seemed to be (mostly) satisfied. That’s just the way it was.
But now, there is much more emphasis on a healthy lifestyle, and this includes a healthy delineation of work and not-work. An AAST-approved survey was sent to the membership which tried to parse out the various factors involved in work-life balance, happiness, and burnout.
Here are some very interesting factoids:
- Of more than 1300 questionnaires sent out, only 291 (21%) returned them (wish I had a sad face icon here)
- Only 43% were satisfied with their work-life balance
- There was no difference in satisfaction based on age, sex, or practice type
- Here are the factors that set the satisfied surgeons apart from the dissatisfied:
- Early (<10 years) or late in career (>20 years)
- Fewer hours spent at work
- More hours spent (awake) at home
- Enjoy their job
- Enjoy their partners
- Better at saying no or delegating work tasks
- Feel they are fairly compensated
- Engage in hobbies (86% vs 68%)
- Exercise regularly (49% vs 20%)
- Eat a healthy diet (74$ vs 48%)
- Get more sleep (7 hrs vs 6 hrs)
- Despite getting the same amount of vacation time, the satisfied surgeons actually used it
- Dissatisfied surgeons reported significantly more feelings of burnout (77% vs 39%)
The authors concluded that trauma programs should concentrate on optimizing the modifiable factors listed above to improve satisfaction and decrease burnout.
Here are my comments: Well, I don’t have many, nor do I have any questions for the authors. This is a purely descriptive study that paints a general picture outlining what seems to be important in enhancing satisfaction with one’s career path. It is an interesting read, and outlines many of the factors that influence this. I’m sure it’s not all of the factors, but they hit the big ones.
All trauma professionals should look at this data and read the final manuscript. It may help you make changes to optimize your own work-life balance and career satisfaction.
Reference: Modifiable factors to improve work-life balance for trauma surgeons. AAST 2020, Oral abstract #50.