Tips for Becoming a More Resilient Surgeon


Resiliency is one of the best ways to combat burnout in surgeons (and other professionals, for that matter). Many surgeons could improve their resiliency, which would insulate them from the symptoms of burnout. We need to encourage surgeons to build their resiliency and help them do it.

Before we get any further, let’s first define what we mean by “resilience.”  

At SurgeonMasters, we believe resilience can be defined in several ways. Resilience offers the ability to meet challenges and adverse outcomes as opportunities rather than barriers. It is fostered by self-awareness, confidence, preparation, a commitment to core beliefs, values and purpose. This article offers a few tips for becoming a more resilient surgeon.

Be Prepared for the Worst

Take steps to proactively prepare yourself for worst-case scenarios. Of course, it’s impossible to prepare for every possible situation that may occur, but laying the groundwork for recovery can go a long way. Being mentally prepared for change, and realizing that you can choose how to react can help you deal with bad situations when they arise.

Develop Emotional Self-Awareness

Having a good grasp on your emotional self-awareness is difficult for a lot of people, but it can help you understand yourself and others – especially in times of crisis. Take a good look at yourself and examine how you respond to stress, and what causes your stress levels to spike. This emotional  self-awareness can help you learn how to better react to and cope with difficult situations.

Understand Your Purpose

Understanding your purpose is an essential factor in boosting your resiliency. For many surgeons, their purpose takes the form of helping people and saving lives. For others, purpose can take the form of building and caring for a family. Finding your purpose is often easier said than done. But once you’ve found it, your purpose is a great foundation upon which you can build your resiliency. Having a good grasp on your purpose can give you perspective when things go awry.

Build a Resiliency Community

Building strong and healthy relationships with those around you (your family, friends, and colleagues) can help you in times of crisis. Having someone you can talk to, confide in, or commiserate with is much healthier than keeping things bottled up.

If you’re searching for a thriving community of like-minded surgeons, look no further than SurgeonMasters. We are a group of surgeons looking to build sustainable and lifestyle-friendly practices through resilience and wellness.

Contact us today to learn more about SurgeonMasters!

3 Tips for Surgeons to Promote Well-Being & Decrease Burnout


In a March 2017 Forbes article, Paula Davis-Laack (Founder of the David Laack Stress and Resilience Institute) offers a few tips for promoting well-being and decreasing burnout in the workplace. I’d like to examine these tips and see how they relate specifically to doctors and surgeons.

Don’t Ignore the Problem – Acknowledge & Track

All too often, doctors who exhibit the classic signs and symptoms of burnout simply ignore the issue and keep pressing on with their work. But ignoring these symptoms does nothing other than delay the inevitable. Left unchecked, the stressors that lead to burnout will build and get worse. It’s a much better practice to acknowledge these symptoms when they arise and begin to track them. Do these symptoms crop up at a certain time of day, or when engaging in a certain activity? Measuring symptoms will help you identify the root causes of your burnout and help you achieve greater well-being.

Seeking Out Resilience Resources

Resilience is a learned skill that can be incredibly effective at keeping burnout at bay. Using various tactics, resilient people can develop an increased mental strength and toughness that can significantly help reduce burnout. Surgeons with high resiliency are much more likely to keep going when less-resilient people have already given up.

Finding Your Work / Life Integration (Rhythm)

Paula calls this “work / life integration” but I like to use the phrase “work / life rhythm.” Paula’s point is that efforts to integrate them will create more successful careers and relationships. My point is that our career demands are more successfully integrated when our other life responsibilities are addressed with quality and focus. I consider myself in my rhythm when I move from one role or relationship to the next with focus and quality in that role or relationship. This requires ongoing efforts, and the ability to say no when necessary.

Putting These Tips into Practice

Now it’s time to put these tips into practice! If you have questions about how to do that, or want to connect with like-minded surgeons about their well-being tips and tricks, subscribe to SurgeonMasters! With webinars, podcasts, and local meetups, SurgeonMasters aims to connect like-minded surgeons with one another and share tips to develop thriving and sustainable lifestyle-friendly practices.