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Are We Human or Are We Surgeon?: Comment on “Join the Club”

Are We Human or Are We Surgeon?: Comment on “Join the Club” This wide-ranging study by Sullivan et al1 examined questions of social and mentoring interaction between residents and faculty and how that played into residents' satisfaction with their training programs. The instrument was administered after the grueling 5-hour American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination at a time when, at least in the Northeast, it is dark and cold and everyone is sunlight deprived. These factors certainly raise questions regarding interpretation of the results, yet such concerns should not diminish the importance of this study, which emphasizes an aspect of our responsibilities to residents that has received far too little attention to date. In the past, faculty—especially surgeons—were placed or placed themselves on a pedestal. This has become less common today, but this study shows that we still have a ways to go. If we are indeed human and not just surgeons, is there a better way to let residents understand this so that they do not in turn become haughty and aloof? Many faculty members have a host of diverse interests, including skills in the humanities as well as music of all types, painting, photography, or writing; some have boats; some love to fix cars; and there are a multitude of other pastimes that occupy their leisure time. However, we as a faculty rarely display these interests for residents to see. If residents saw us as human rather than as austere, distant, and unattainable figures, would they want to socialize more, would they then seek us out as mentors more readily, would they be happier in the environment we have created, and would they themselves ultimately become more human? I don't know the answer because, for the most part, we have not shown that other side of our panoply of talents to our charges. Regrettably, the authors1 found far too many residents feeling isolated and unhappy with their choice of surgery training program. It is most troubling to learn that this applies especially to the most vulnerable of our charges, the junior residents. It is also worrisome that female residents apparently feel the same way, perhaps, as pointed out, explaining the higher attrition rate in these 2 groups. Today, half our residents are female, but the composition of our faculty does not yet reflect that balance. Showing our human side might help reduce feelings of alienation, but this particular concern may only be solved when more women join our ranks and we are seen as welcoming to all residents. This study is a wake-up call to pay attention to a too-often-neglected aspect of our responsibility to all the residents who have placed themselves in our charge. Back to top Article Information Correspondence: Dr Coe, Office of Surgical Education, Baystate Medical Center, Tufts University Medical School, 759 Chestnut St, Springfield, MA 01199 (nicholas.coe@bhs.org). Financial Disclosure: None reported. References 1. Sullivan MC, Bucholz EM, Yeo H, Roman SA, Bell RH Jr, Sosa JA. “Join the club”: effect of resident and attending social interactions on overall satisfaction among 4390 general surgery residents. Arch Surg. 2012;147(5):sne120001408-414Google ScholarCrossref http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Archives of Surgery American Medical Association

Are We Human or Are We Surgeon?: Comment on “Join the Club”

Archives of Surgery , Volume 147 (5) – May 1, 2012

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Publisher
American Medical Association
Copyright
Copyright © 2012 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved.
ISSN
0004-0010
eISSN
1538-3644
DOI
10.1001/archsurg.2012.46
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This wide-ranging study by Sullivan et al1 examined questions of social and mentoring interaction between residents and faculty and how that played into residents' satisfaction with their training programs. The instrument was administered after the grueling 5-hour American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination at a time when, at least in the Northeast, it is dark and cold and everyone is sunlight deprived. These factors certainly raise questions regarding interpretation of the results, yet such concerns should not diminish the importance of this study, which emphasizes an aspect of our responsibilities to residents that has received far too little attention to date. In the past, faculty—especially surgeons—were placed or placed themselves on a pedestal. This has become less common today, but this study shows that we still have a ways to go. If we are indeed human and not just surgeons, is there a better way to let residents understand this so that they do not in turn become haughty and aloof? Many faculty members have a host of diverse interests, including skills in the humanities as well as music of all types, painting, photography, or writing; some have boats; some love to fix cars; and there are a multitude of other pastimes that occupy their leisure time. However, we as a faculty rarely display these interests for residents to see. If residents saw us as human rather than as austere, distant, and unattainable figures, would they want to socialize more, would they then seek us out as mentors more readily, would they be happier in the environment we have created, and would they themselves ultimately become more human? I don't know the answer because, for the most part, we have not shown that other side of our panoply of talents to our charges. Regrettably, the authors1 found far too many residents feeling isolated and unhappy with their choice of surgery training program. It is most troubling to learn that this applies especially to the most vulnerable of our charges, the junior residents. It is also worrisome that female residents apparently feel the same way, perhaps, as pointed out, explaining the higher attrition rate in these 2 groups. Today, half our residents are female, but the composition of our faculty does not yet reflect that balance. Showing our human side might help reduce feelings of alienation, but this particular concern may only be solved when more women join our ranks and we are seen as welcoming to all residents. This study is a wake-up call to pay attention to a too-often-neglected aspect of our responsibility to all the residents who have placed themselves in our charge. Back to top Article Information Correspondence: Dr Coe, Office of Surgical Education, Baystate Medical Center, Tufts University Medical School, 759 Chestnut St, Springfield, MA 01199 (nicholas.coe@bhs.org). Financial Disclosure: None reported. References 1. Sullivan MC, Bucholz EM, Yeo H, Roman SA, Bell RH Jr, Sosa JA. “Join the club”: effect of resident and attending social interactions on overall satisfaction among 4390 general surgery residents. Arch Surg. 2012;147(5):sne120001408-414Google ScholarCrossref

Journal

Archives of SurgeryAmerican Medical Association

Published: May 1, 2012

Keywords: surgeons

References