4 Tips to Avoid Surgeon Burnout

Surgeon burnout is an epidemic. Many physicians who are experiencing the signs and symptoms of burnout don’t know what to do to deal with the burnout. In a previous article, we talked about some of the factors that can cause physician burnout. Now let’s look at prevention. This article will offer some tips for avoiding surgeon burnout before it takes over. Pick any of these 4 to start on. You don't have to do them all perfectly. Just start making an effort now.

Eat a Balanced Diet

The old saying “you are what you eat” holds more truth that we like to give it. Eating fast food, junk food, and drinking a lot of sugary drinks offer short term satisfaction, but can really take a toll on your body in the long run. Eating a healthy diet composed of vegetables, fiber, and protein can do wonders for your overall health.

Form Healthy Sleep Habits

Sleep is absolutely essential to your overall health – both physical and mental. Sleep deprivation can increase your stress levels and increase your likelihood of making mistakes on the job. Many doctors have to work odd hours (especially when on call). This can lead to a disruption of the standard sleep schedule, and force doctors to compensate with caffeine. In turn, this can cause a vicious cycle of drinking caffeine to stay awake, and then not being able to sleep because of too much caffeine. Create a sleep schedule and stick to it as much as possible. Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages in the hours before sleep to ensure a solid night’s rest.

Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise is the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. You’d think that doctors should know that better than anyone! However, with long work hours and other stressors, many physicians find it difficult to stick to a workout routine. But making the time to exercise on a daily basis – even for just 30 minutes can significantly improve your energy at work and your overall health.

Say No When You Need To

Many doctors try to do everything that’s asked of them, and in doing so, spread themselves too thin. When you have such an important job where lives are at stake, it can be tempting to do everything and never say no. However, surgeons also need to think about their own physical and mental health. If you’re constantly saying yes and working crazy hours, you’re cutting into your time with family and friends. Creating and maintaining a healthy work-life balance is an essential step towards preventing surgeon burnout.

Many physicians struggle with burnout on a daily basis. It’s important to recognize the signs of burnout and take proactive steps to prevent burnout before it overwhelms you. I’ve been helping surgeons mitigate burnout for years using the 8 PRACTICEs of Highly Successful Surgeons. I developed this methodology after my own struggles with physician burnout.  Contact me for more information on my surgeon burnout prevention methodology and to set up a consultation.

The Benefits of Planning for Failure

As surgeons, we are required to plan for failure in the operating room. We need to be aware of everything that could possibly go wrong, so we know how to respond and prevent a crisis from developing. This mentality was instilled in us during our training, when our mentors taught us how to avoid critical mistakes that could put our patients at risk.

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Masterminds: 8 Benefits for Surgeons

“A mastermind alliance involves two or more people who work in perfect harmony for the attainment of a definite purpose.”
-       Napoleon Hill, Author of “Think and Grow Rich” (1937)

Mastermind Groups

Mastermind groups were born out of the belief that two minds are better than one. While surgeons are trained to learn and make decisions on their own, highly successful people have often discovered the benefits of such groups at various points in their career.

When you collaborate, brainstorm, and share with like-minded yet diverse individuals, you uncover new ideas and perspectives. Regular meetings of the Mastermind fuel your success, hold you accountable, and ensure that you continue to progress.

Most surgeons have never heard of a Mastermind group or alliance. Toastmasters clubs are examples of a Mastermind as they operate for the purpose of helping members improve their communication, public speaking and leadership skills. 

Over the last few years researching and developing my educational platform on The 8 PRACTICEs of Highly Successful Surgeons, I have discovered Mastermind’s long track record of success. 

As surgeons, we trained to be able to go it alone and still be able to survive and be successful in the operating room and taking care of our patients.  However, being a part of a Mastermind group is essential for one to achieve even greater success in our life and career.  Here’s why:

1. Support, Guidance, and Encouragement

A Mastermind group is like having your own Board of Directors. Your group prioritizes your success and encourages optimal performance. When you’re doing well, they offer suggestions on how you can maintain that excellence. When you’re going through a challenging time, they lend their expertise and experience to guide you through.

2. Camaraderie and Connection

You get emotional support from people who understand who you are, where you’re coming from, and what you’re trying to achieve. These connections fuel your success and inspire you to achieve your potential.

3. Accountability

You’re more likely to be successful if you have a peer group holding you accountable. When you commit to a Mastermind group, you are expected to follow through on your end of the deal, just as you expect others to follow through on theirs.

4. Ongoing Leadership Training

Collaborating with other leaders on a regular basis will teach you immeasurable lessons. You’ll build leadership skills and gain first-hand knowledge specifically directed to surgeons that you are unlikely to learn anywhere else.

5. Networking

Participating in a Mastermind will open up doors you wouldn’t have encountered otherwise.  Members have contacts or references that you would not have likely heard about except for this new group of colleagues.

6. Accelerated Success

If you’re in a Mastermind of your peers, you’ll learn from their successes and hard lessons. If you’re in a Mastermind with individuals who are ahead of you in their careers, you’ll follow their lead and avoid their mistakes. Either way, you’ll achieve success much more quickly than if you were to go it alone.

7. Complex Problem Solving

Mastermind groups seek solutions to complex issues. If you need a fresh idea, an imaginative strategy, or an innovative solution, your Mastermind group is sure to be of assistance.

8. Synergy

Synergy is the working together of two or people, when the result is greater than the sum of their individual capabilities. Masterminds are powerful because there is strength in numbers. When each member brings their own diverse skills, experience, and knowledge to the group, incredible things happen.

Have a question about joining or starting a Mastermind group? Leave your message in the comment box below and we’ll get back to you right away. 

The 8 PRACTICEs Of Highly Successful Surgeons

The 8 PRACTICEs of Highly Successful Surgeons is a methodology designed to provide surgeons with a framework that will guide them to create a sustainable and fulfilling surgical practice and career.


When these principles are utilized, you will:

  • Reengage your Passion for Performance Improvement consistent with why you got into Surgery in the first place.
  • Reciprocity in your many Roles and Relationships that you have in your life and career strengthened by a cooperative exchange or give and take.
  • Create a better Attitude for yourself and others to deal with the many frustrations from positive resilience training.
  • Improve your Communication skills for mutual understanding.
  • Time management such that you get more done with less effort and stress by getting in your rhythm.
  • Help Inspire and Influence yourself and others with the focus on shared goals.
  • Greater ability to deal with Complex problem solving through strategies that utilize simplicity.
  • More Energy (Wellness) to stay healthy and lead a more fulfilling and sustainable lifestyle-friendly surgical practice.

Contact me to learn more about The 8 PRACTICEs of Highly Successful Surgeons.