A self-selecting prophecy: prevalence of burnout in surgical fellows

Annie Laurie Benzie, Shankar Logarajah, Muhammad B. Darwish, Kei Nagatomo, Edward E. Cho, Taylor S. Riall, D. Rohan Jeyarajah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Burnout has become a prominent topic, yet there are limited data on the manifestation of this phenomenon among surgical fellows. The goal of this study is to elucidate the prevalence of burnout and determine if there are protective or predisposing factors in surgical fellowship training. Methods: A confidential electronic survey was distributed to Fellowship Council accredited fellows during the 2020–2021 academic year. Demographic information and training characteristics were queried. The fellows were then asked to complete the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Short Grit Scale (SGS), Satisfaction with Life Scale (SLS), and General Self-Efficacy Scale (SE). Data were analyzed using p values of ≤ 0.05 as statistically significant. Results: At the end of the survey period, 92 out of 196 (46.9%) fellowship trainees responded. 69.6% of respondents identified as men, 29.7% as international medical school graduates (IMGs), and 15.3% non-US IMGs. Based on criteria defined by the MBI, there was an 8.4% rate of burnout. Most respondents noted low stress levels (62.3%), good satisfaction with life (58.9%), a moderate amount of grit, and a high level of self-esteem. On comparative analysis, fellows with burnout had significantly higher stress levels, lower levels of satisfaction with life, and less self-esteem. Conclusions: Overall, there was a low rate of burnout among fellows. We suggest this may be reflective of a self-selecting effect, as trainees who choose to undergo additional training may be less likely to experience this syndrome. In addition, there may be a protective factor during fellowship that results from inherent mentoring, increased specialization, and autonomy. Further investigation of the predisposing factors to burnout in fellowship trainees is warranted based on the results of this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4926-4933
Number of pages8
JournalSurgical endoscopy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Burnout
  • Fellowship Council
  • Surgical fellowship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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