Physician mistreatment in the clinical learning environment

Am J Surg. 2020 Aug;220(2):276-281. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2019.11.038. Epub 2020 Feb 3.


Background: Mistreatment has been correlated with burnout and poor well-being in medical students, but data regarding residents and faculty are limited. The objective was to investigate the prevalence of mistreatment towards surgical housestaff and faculty and characterize such experiences.

Methods: In 2018, the Department of Surgery surveyed housestaff and faculty on incidents of mistreatment.

Results: Clinical faculty (63%) and residents (72%) completed the mistreatment survey. Excluding public embarrassment, 48% of residents and 29% of clinical faculty experienced mistreatment. Residents experienced public embarrassment and public humiliation more frequently than faculty, however faculty were subjected to racially or ethnically offensive remarks/names more frequently than residents (p < .05). Faculty within and external to their department were most cited as instigators of mistreatment. Residents experienced mistreatment most often by faculty, co-residents, and nurses. Reporting of the behaviors was low.

Conclusions: Incidents of mistreatment are frequently occurring for surgical residents and faculty.

Keywords: Faculty; Mistreatment; Professionalism; Residents; Surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Disclosure / statistics & numerical data
  • Faculty, Medical / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Male
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Racism*
  • Shame*
  • Surgeons / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires