Objective: To survey the concerns of surgical residents in New England and to determine whether similarities or differences exist based on gender.
Design/setting: A survey was distributed to all 21 surgical residency programs. The survey consisted of six demographic questions and 23 items, which the residents coded on a Likert-type scale.
Participants: Surgical residents enrolled in a general surgical residency or specialty residents completing general surgery requirements.
Intervention: Distribution and completion of the survey.
Main outcome measure: Prominent concerns among residents during training years and gender differences based on these concerns.
Results: All programs responded. A completed survey was returned by 501 residents (73%), 378 (75%) of whom were male and 123 (25%) of whom were female. On a scale of 1 to 5 (from no concern to major concern), the five most important issues were work hours (mean, 3.4), personal finances (mean, 3.1), quantity and quality of formal education (mean, 3.0 each), and postponement of family plans (mean, 2.9). Six items surveyed were of more concern to women than men; availability of role models, mentors, or both; comfort in expressing emotions at work; initiating and maintaining personal relationships; having children during residency; and postponing family plans.
Conclusions: Three of the highest-reported concerns for the entire group are issues that could conceivably be controlled by surgical chairpersons and program directors. In contrast, only one of the six concerns that differed for men and women is directly program related. The remaining five issues require changes in societal values for these differences to dissolve.