The Surgical Personality: Does Surgery Resident Motivation Predict Attrition?

Journal Article (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

Duke Authors

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

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1879-1190

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2018.02.007


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States