The Surgical Personality: Does Surgery Resident Motivation Predict Attrition?


Journal Article

BACKGROUND:There is limited understanding of the wide variation in attrition rates among general surgery residencies. We used the validated Behavior Inhibitory System/Behavior Approach System (BIS/BAS) instrument to compare motivational traits among residents who did and not complete surgical training. STUDY DESIGN:All US general surgery categorical interns in the class of 2007-2008 were surveyed with a validated motivational trait assessment tool. American Board of Surgery records from 2008-2016 were used to determine who completed training. Motivation, an aspect of personality, was assessed with the BIS/BAS, which correlates with an individual's tendency to approach pleasant stimuli (BAS) or avoid negative stimuli (BIS). Subscale mean scores were compared with regard to the primary end point, attrition. RESULTS:Eight hundred and one (76.5%) interns completed the survey and had matching records. Six hundred and forty-five (80.5%) completed training. Men had lower scores than women in the BAS Drive subscale (12.0 vs 12.5; p < 0.002), BAS Reward Response subscale (17.2 vs 17.7; p < 0.01), and BIS scale (19.3 vs 20.9; p < 0.01). The BAS Reward Response scores differed based on program type (academic 17.3 vs community 17.6 vs military 16.6; p < 0.0027). There were no differences based on program size (BIS average, small program 19.9 vs large program 19.7; p = 0.43). There were also no differences in BIS/BAS subscale scores based on residency completion status (BIS mean: completed 19.9 vs dropped out 20.1; p = 0.51). CONCLUSIONS:Surgery residents are characterized by a strong drive and persistence toward their goals. However, residents who drop out do not differ from those who complete training in their motivational personality traits.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Symer, MM; Abelson, JS; Yeo, HL; Sosa, JA; Rosenthal, MZ

Published Date

  • May 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 226 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 777 - 783

PubMed ID

  • 29510202

Pubmed Central ID

  • 29510202

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1879-1190

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1072-7515

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2018.02.007


  • eng