1374. Burnout Recovery Among Neurosurgery Residents

Authors: Oliver Tang; Katherine Dunn; Seungwon Yoon; Peter Nakaji, MD; Volker Sonntag, MD; Michael Lawton, MD (Providence, RI)


Burnout in medicine is highly prevalent and adversely affects physician sustainability, quality of care, and patient satisfaction. However, no study has examined factors that aid in recovery and wellness for neurosurgery residents.


A 60-item questionnaire was distributed to all current and former neurosurgery residents at our single institution. Survey questions evaluated personal and workplace stressors to burnout and recovery, impact of burnout, and factors that led to recovery.


The survey had a 24% response rate (26/109). Respondents included 22 alumni and 4 current residents, with graduation years from 1987 to 2023. 100% of current residents and 14% of alumni reported burnout. When reflecting on the most “severe episode of burnout” or most “severe period of hardship” experienced during residency, all respondents indicated that this period began in PGY1-PGY3, with 77% of instances starting in PGY2. The average length of this period was 13 months (range: 0.5-84 months). Work-life imbalance (85%) and imbalance of resident duties (62%) were the predominant contributors to burnout. Residents reported this period impacted their personal life (31%) over academic productivity, patient relationships, and surgical ability and confidence (all 13%). While the end of a rotation or PGY was overwhelmingly cited as a recovery factor (85%), respondents also named increased sleep, improved personal health, and more operating room time as influential recovery factors (all 42%). Program-specific initiatives, such as outdoor activities (46%) and inter-resident social events (38%), were also effective for recovery.


A survey of resident wellness at our institution’s neurosurgery program indicated that burnout and hardship are universal experiences of residency, often occurring during early training. However, institution-initiated programs may play a role in mediating recovery. Furthermore, the tendency for younger residents to increasingly report burnout over hardship may represent a cultural shift towards wellness.