Employment and Satisfaction Trends Among General Surgery Residents from a Community Hospital

Amy E. Cyr-Taro, Cyrus A. Kotwall, Rema P. Menon, M. Sue Hamann, Don K. Nakayama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Physician satisfaction is an important and timely issue in health care. A paucity of literature addresses this question among general surgeons. Purpose: To review employment patterns and job satisfaction among general surgery residents from a single university-affiliated institution. Methods: All general surgery residents graduating from 1986 to 2006, inclusive, were mailed an Institutional Review Board-approved survey, which was then returned anonymously. Information on demographics, fellowship training, practice characteristics, job satisfaction and change, and perceived shortcomings in residency training was collected. Results: A total of 31 of 34 surveys were returned (91%). Most of those surveyed were male (94%) and Caucasian (87%). Sixty-one percent of residents applied for a fellowship, and all but 1 were successful in obtaining their chosen fellowship. The most frequent fellowship chosen was plastic surgery, followed by minimally invasive surgery. Seventy-one percent of residents who applied for fellowship felt that the program improved their competitiveness for a fellowship. Most of the sample is in private practice, and of those, 44% are in groups with more than 4 partners. Ninety percent work less than 80 hours per week. Only 27% practice in small towns (population <50,000). Of the 18 graduates who practice general surgery, 94% perform advanced laparoscopy. Sixty-seven percent of our total sample cover trauma, and 55% of the general surgeons perform endoscopy. These graduates wish they had more training in pancreatic, hepatobiliary, and thoracic surgery. Eighty-three percent agreed that they would again choose a general surgery residency, 94% of those who completed a fellowship would again choose that fellowship, and 90% would again choose their current job. Twenty-three percent agreed that they had difficulty finding their first job, and 30% had fewer job offers than expected. Thirty-five percent of the graduates have changed jobs: 29% of the residents have changed jobs once, and 6% have changed jobs at least twice since completing training. Reasons for leaving a job included colleague issues (82%), financial issues (82%), inadequate referrals (64%), excessive trauma (64%), and marriage or family reasons (55% and 55%, respectively). One half to three fourths of the graduates wished they had more teaching on postresidency business and financial issues, review of contracts, and suggestions for a timeline for finding a job. Conclusions: Although general surgical residencies prepare residents well technically, they do not seem to be training residents adequately in the business of medicine. This training can be conducted by attendings, local attorneys, office managers, and past residents with the expectation that job relocations can decrease and surgeon career satisfaction can increase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-49
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  • Practice Based Learning and Improvement
  • Systems Based Practice
  • career choice
  • employment
  • job satisfaction
  • surgery residency
  • surgery residents


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