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Program for residents reflects “massive change” in surgeon mentality

Black Read, M.D, Cara Liebert, M.D, Micaela Esquivel, M.D, and Julia Park , M.D. all are  Stanford School of Medicine surgery resident taking part in the ropes course on Tuesday, September 9, 2014, as a  team-building exercise on the Li Ka Shing Center lawn on Stanford University campus. ( Norbert von der Groeben/ Stanford School of Medicine )

“The old-school surgeon mentality is that surgery is your life. The very existence of the program is an acknowledgment that a cultural shift is occurring.” Those are the thoughts of Lyen Huang, MD, a fourth-year resident, about Balance in Life, a Stanford Medicine program designed to offer support to its surgical residents. We've written about it on Scope before, and the current issue of San Francisco Magazine now also provides a look.

Explaining that surgical residents are "under enormous pressure to learn quickly and produce good patient outcomes—all while working 80-hour weeks on little sleep," writer Elise Craig outlines Balance in Life's offerings for residents: a fridge filled with healthy snacks, happy hours and team-building events, mentorships and friendly nudges to go to the dentist or doctor. And, she writes:

If having surgical residents take time away from the operating room for lawn games sounds a little juvenile, consider this: Recent surveys conducted by the American College of Surgeons found that 40 percent of surgeons reported burnout, 30 percent screened positive for depression, and almost half did not want their children to follow in their professional footsteps.

...

Some snacks and an afternoon ropes course might not sound like much, but [Ralph Greco, MD, the professor of surgery who helped build the program] and his residents argue that the unique program reflects a massive change.

Previously: New surgeons take time out for mental health, Using mindfulness interventions to help reduce physician burnout and A closer look at depression and distress among medical students
Photo, from a Fall 2014 team-building activity, by Norbert von der Groeben

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