Stress and Distress of Surgical Practice: the Trainee\'s View

  • JG Makama
  • ES Garba


Background: Stress is the body\'s non specific response to any pleasant or unpleasant demand placed upon it. Is surgical practice a stressful profession? Method: It\'s a prospective study, involving surgical residents in sub specialties of surgery. Information was obtained by administered questionnaire. Resident was expected to have spent three months in the surgical field. Results: There were forty one (41) residents; age range was 25year to 42 year (mean 33.44+4.81). There were 35(85.4%) males and 6 (16.6%) females. Thirty eight, (92.7%) of the residents considered surgery to be a stressful profession. Thirty two, (78.1%) considered pediatrics subspecialty to be the most stressful of all. Lack of professionalism and workload were greatest sources of stress in 18 (43.9%) and 11 (26.8%) cases of the residents. In thirty seven, (90.2%) their academic exposures were not adequate. Despite all these short comings, the progress of the training was satisfactory in 26(63.4%) residents. Thirty seven, (90.2%) of the residents would not specialize in surgery if given a second chance. Conclusion: Surgery, as a stressful profession is no longer a debatable issue and a surgical trainee perceives it that way. We recommend that coping mechanisms such as putting appropriate backup support, offer of flexible scheduling to allow time off for critical family and social events are absolutely necessary among our surgical trainees.

Keywords: Stress, distress, surgery, trainee,

Nigerian Journal of Medicine Vol. 17 (4) 2008: pp. 383-386

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eISSN: 1115-2613