American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons
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Can Global Surgery Participation Ameliorate Symptoms of Burnout?
Rosaline Zhang, MD MSTR; Michael Bentz, MD
Division of Plastic Surgery, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

Background: Among academic plastic surgery programs, interest in global surgery has grown, as has concern about burnout. The purpose of this study is to explore potential factors associated with burnout, with particular focus on participation in global surgery as a possible protective factor.
Methods: A survey was designed to collect personal and professional characteristics, and measure burnout using the validated modified Maslach Burnout Inventory instrument. A cross-sectional sample of faculty and trainees at US academic plastic surgery programs were invited to participate in the study, via email solicitation and distribution through the American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons membership listserv. Standard summary statistics were used to characterize the sample. Univariate and multivariate analyses were conducted to evaluate risk and protective factors for burnout symptoms.
Results: Personal and professional characteristics of the 84 survey respondents are summarized in Table 1. 77% of respondents reported having global surgery experience. As a result of global surgery participation, 97% reported gaining deeper appreciation and gratitude for their chosen profession and their ability to make a difference in people’s lives, and 94% reported renewed enthusiasm for personal and professional goals. Those with global surgery experience did not differ significantly in burnout symptoms compared to those without global surgery experience (p>0.05). Overall, 19% of all survey respondents experienced burnout symptoms at least once per week, with 31% feeling that their work schedule did not leave enough time for personal/family life. Characteristics associated with greater burnout included non-male gender identity (p=0.016) and being a resident (p=0.037). Non-male identity was independently associated with burnout in multivariate analysis (OR 12.2, p = 0.006).
Conclusion: Plastic surgeons who engage in global surgery find it valuable in cultivating commitment and engagement in a surgical career. This may be protective against burnout, including for residents and those of non-male gender identity who have greater associated prevalence of burnout. Recruitment for larger sample size is currently ongoing to increase power analysis to more thoroughly explore these associations. This data will then be enhanced with qualitative interviews to more closely examine motivations for participating in global surgery, career satisfaction, and sense of burnout.

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