Neurosurgical residents face a unique combination of challenges, including long duty hours, technically challenging cases, and uncertain employment prospects. We sought to assess the demographics, interests, career goals, self-rated happiness, and overall well-being of Canadian neurosurgery residents.
A cross-sectional survey was developed and sent through the Canadian Neurosurgery Research Collaborative to every resident enrolled in a Canadian neurosurgery program as of April 1, 2016.
We analyzed 76 completed surveys of 146 eligible residents (52% response rate). The median age was 29 years, with 76% of respondents being males. The most popular subspecialties of interest for fellowship were spine, oncology, and open vascular neurosurgery. The most frequent self-reported number of worked hours per week was the 80- to 89-hour range. The majority of respondents reported a high level of happiness as well as stress. Sense of accomplishment and fatigue were reported as average to high and overall quality of life was low for 19%, average for 49%, and high for 32%. Satisfaction with work-life balance was average for 44% of respondents and was the only tested domain in which significant dissatisfaction was identified (18%). Overall, respondents were highly satisfied with their choice of specialty, choice of program, surgical exposure, and work environment; however, intimidation was reported in 36% of respondents and depression by 17%.
Despite a challenging residency and high workload, the majority of Canadian neurosurgery residents are happy and satisfied with their choice of specialty and program. However, work-life balance, employability, resident intimidation, and depression were identified as areas of active concern.