Surgeon Burnout Among Men vs. Women

If you’re a regular reader, you know that surgeon burnout is one of the prominent topics we discuss. One question I have been seeing a lot lately is the difference between men and women when it comes to burnout. In this article, we are going to talk about the role gender plays in surgeon burnout. Do men and women experience burnout differently? Is one gender more susceptible to burnout? These are the guiding questions for this article.

How Burnout Presents in Men vs. Women

Burnout can impact physicians of both genders, but some research shows that the ways in which burnout presents can differ between genders. One particular study ( examined three of the most common signs of burnout in male & female physicians:

  • Exhaustion. Feeling emotionally (and sometimes physically) drained, and a loss of energy.
  • Cynicism. Feeling generally irritable, and having a negative attitude.
  • Inefficacy. Feeling unaccomplished in your work.

The study found that women physicians generally experience these symptoms in the above order: exhaustion, then cynicism, then inefficacy. Male doctors, on the other hand, typically experienced cynicism first, followed by exhaustion. Furthermore, many males did not experience the final symptoms of inefficacy. Despite feeling cynical and exhausted, they thought they were still performing their work at a satisfactory level.

Burnout Transcends Gender

My personal experience and work with clients has largely been consistent with this study. However, I am looking to gain more information on surgeons in various specialties. I have encouraged research by others, and I am conducting research in this area myself. If you want to contribute significantly to our knowledge about burnout in Surgeons, please go to this link to take our survey.  The survey is anonymous, but there is an option actually receive you Maslach Burnout Inventory scores in the three categories above.

While there may be some variations between men and women, the fact is that burnout can hit any physician – regardless of gender. If you are experiencing any of the telltale signs of burnout, be proactive and take steps to start treating the burnout before it takes over.

Through my years of medical training and private practice, I have experienced my fair share of burnout. Instead of succumbing to the stress and frustration, I developed a methodology for combating the burnout that I call The 8 PRACTICEs of Highly Successful Surgeons. This methodology is geared towards both male and female surgeons. The idea is to create habits that encourage rhythm more so than  balance between your work and home life.