American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Surgeon Well-Being

Well-Being in the Time of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Fifty-two percent (52%) of surgeons report burnout. According the World Health Organization, burnout results from chronic workplace stress and is characterized by the depletion of energy and exhaustion, increased mental distance from your job or negative feelings toward your work, and reduced professional efficacy.

Burnout affects how engaged you feel with your patients, colleagues, and work. You may feel a lack of professional purpose. Feelings of being unempowered are common. You are not alone. The American College of Surgeons (ACS) is committed to fostering well-being, resilience, and work-life integration for surgeons at every stage of their careers.

The ACS has curated tools and resources to help surgeons stay healthy, engaged, and physically and mentally strong to support their professional pursuits and provide optimal care to patients. At a systems level, the ACS has resources for program directors and administrators for worksite cultures that support optimal work life integration for surgeons.

The ACS is committed to the health and well-being of surgeons and the health care community. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to create space to care for oneself amidst the increased demands of caring for patients, providing additional support to hospital systems and staff, managing workload, and navigating the impact COVID-19 has on individuals, families, communities, hospitals, and our world.

The ACS encourages you to take advantage of the curated resources and tools focused on well-being below. 

COVID-19 Well-Being Resources and Tools

  • Check with your hospital or practice to see if an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available for any additional support. EAPs typically include assessments, counseling, and referrals for additional services to employees with personal and/or work-related concerns, such as stress, financial issues, legal issues, family problems, office conflicts, and alcohol and substance abuse.
  • Use support systems in place, such as reaching out to mentors, peers, colleagues, significant others, family, and friends.
  • Remind yourself of the signs and symptoms of stress, fatigue, and burnout:
    • Exhaustion
    • Depersonalization
    • Lack of efficacy

ACS Surgeon Well-Being Index—ACS offers this as a free resource to Fellows, Associate Fellows, and resident surgeons in the United States and Canada. Source: ACS

National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI)—The NAMI resource booklet covers a variety of topics from experiencing anxiety, concerns about businesses, healthcare, substance abuse disorders, and more. NAMI also offers phone and online support if you need someone to talk to. The NAMI HelpLine is open 10am-6pm, Eastern at 1-800-950-6264, by email at info@nami.org, or by texting ‘NAMI’ to 74141.

Promoting psychological well-being in the face of serious illness: when theory, research and practice inform each other Source: NIH

Psychological First Aid Source: NCTSN

That Discomfort You're Feeling Is Grief Source: Harvard Business Review

COVID-19 Self Care: Tips From The World Health Organization Source: NPR

Seven things you can do today to help improve your mental health amidst COVID-19 Source: University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Medicine, Department of Surgery

Sustaining the Well-Being of Healthcare Personnel during Coronavirus and Other Infection Disease OutbreaksSource: Center for Study of Traumatic Stress

Emergency Responders: Tips for taking care of yourself. Source: CDC

Develop a buddy system: Share in safety and well-being of peersSource: CDC

What Is Doctor Burnout Costing America? Source: NPR

COVID-19 Well-Being Recommendations for Health Care Administrators

The Well-Being Index Team offers ideas for health care administrators to consider implementing to reduce street. Applying some or all of them will substantially increase the overall well-being of your staff

  • Offer living accommodations for ICU/ER physicians who live with a vulnerable family member, so they do not have to go home (e.g., on-campus, hotel).
  • Provide meal credit (e.g., Uber Eats, delivery) for those working extra shifts or unanticipated overtime.
  • Make dictation and transcription services available to all in the ICU/hospital/ER.
  • Redeploy health care workers with known health conditions that place them at elevated risk for complications should they contract COVID-19 to other settings.  
  • Require workers to take breaks to recharge and encourage adequate time off between shifts.
  • Halt all required online modules and non-essential tasks.
  • Provide taxi and ridesharing fare reimbursement to all employees directly engaged in COVID-19 efforts.

Source: The Well-Being Index

If you need more guidance or information, please reach out to Kathleen McCann or Jenny Mohan.

Physician Well-Being Index 

This validated, confidential, tool provides an opportunity for you to better understand your overall well-being and identify areas of risk compared to physicians and residents across the nation. Access to local and national resources will also be targeted to you based on your results. The tool is 100% anonymous—your information and score is private and your individual score will not be shared with anyone, including the ACS. Access for International members is not available at this time.

Well-Being Index Invitation Codes

  • U.S. ACS Fellow/Associate Fellows (practicing surgeons): st9asx
  • U.S. Resident Members (individuals completing surgical training programs): ea7fscrq

Enter the invitation code that corresponds to your membership status.

Access Your Well-Being Index

Using the Tool

Upon accessing the Index for the first time, you will need to register, create a password for the site, and agree to the terms and conditions. A detailed Privacy and Confidentiality Agreement is accessible from the registration page. Access additional details about Privacy and Confidentiality.

The registration screen collects the following information to create your well-being report and compare your well-being to others nationally:

  • Email-address
  • Gender
  • Medical school graduation year
  • Specialty
  • State

This information is kept confidential and is not shared.

After registration, you proceed to the assessment screen. The assessment takes an average of 2 minutes or less to complete. Results are available immediately.

Benefits of the Physician Well-Being Index

Track Your Well-Being Over Time
The Well-Being Index tracks your results over time so you can retake the assessment periodically to track your progress. This allows you to correlate changes in well-being results to life and practice events. Based on your index results, the tool provides resources when they're needed the most.

Compare Your Scores to Physicians Nationally
The most accurate way to assess your well-being is to compare your results to physicians on a national level. The comparative groups include more than 7,000 physicians and 1,700 residents and fellows. You will see where you exceed and where you may be at a higher risk for burnout as compared to your peers. 

Access Free Resources
We strive to provide education and awareness through resources. After completing the Well-Being Index, you will have access to both national and local resources that span multiple categories and topics. 

Additional Resources

We have compiled resources from the College, the American Medical Associate, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, the National Academy of Medicine, and the Association of American Medical Colleges.

View the resources

A Note of Thanks

The Board of Governors Physician Competency and Health Workgroup created the initial list of well-being resources for surgeons, and this list is updated regularly. The Workgroup’s efforts to address issues related to physical and mental wellness for Fellows as well as surgical competency, credentialing, and practice within expected community standards is appreciated. 

Contact Us

For more information about Surgeon Well-Being, Physician Well-Being Index tool or other listed resources, or to recommend additional resources to add to this site, please contact Kathleen McCann at kmccann@facs.org or Jenny Mohan at jmohan@facs.org.