HomeSurgery ArticlesIs Being a Surgeon A Stressful Job?

Is Being a Surgeon A Stressful Job?

If you’re considering becoming a surgeon, it’s natural to wonder whether the profession is stressful. After all, surgeons are responsible for the lives of their patients, and that kind of pressure can be overwhelming. You may even be wondering if surgeons suffer from high levels of stress-related disorders like burnout or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). The good news is that modern medicine has made significant strides in managing the stresses of being a surgeon.

What Stresses Surgeon Out the Most

Surgeons work long, unpredictable hours. A study reports that surgeons work about 60 hours per week and often have irregular schedules, with 80 percent reporting that they worked on holidays and 36 percent saying they worked seven days per week. A study found that 52 percent of surgeons reported experiencing moderate to extreme stress at least once a month during clinical practice.

1. The responsibility of saving lives

Doctors and surgeons are at the mercy of their patients’ lives, which can weigh heavily on them. And, if they don’t get enough sleep, they may forget to take important steps in an operation or diagnosis and put someone in danger. If you think your surgeon may be under too much stress or sleep deprivation, ask him or her about it before you go into surgery.

 Also, surgeons work in an environment where they can face unexpected challenges that may lead to job-related stress. Surgeons need to remain calm under pressure. They must be able to think clearly about an issue even if they’re feeling stressed, which is why they must get enough sleep before surgery.

2. Intense hours, long shifts

Becoming a surgeon can be an extremely stressful job for many reasons. Not only are surgeons in high demand, meaning they may have to work longer hours than is standard for other medical professionals, but their patients are often battling severe illness or injury, meaning they may have to face dramatic, last-minute changes that are challenging at best and terrifying at worst. A surgeon’s job is not for everyone—but it may be just what you’re looking for if you thrive on pressure.

Although surgeons are on call for emergencies at all hours, they generally work more predictable schedules than many other medical professionals. They typically have regular shifts during days and nights, with weekends or holidays off.

3. A demanding, fast-paced work environment

Can be especially stressful to surgeons since they’re also in charge of their patient’s health and well-being. From young children to senior citizens, surgeons have a lot on their plate. And that doesn’t include paperwork and administrative duties. This is why many choose to hire surgical assistants—or scrub techs, as they’re often called—to help assist with clinical duties or other paperwork throughout their shifts.

Are There Ways You Can Cope with Stress as A Surgeon?

 Surgeons, like all people, experience stress from time to time. To get through these times of stress there are some methods you can use to make things easier.  Research has shown that ways to cope with stress as a surgeon can benefit not only your mental well-being but your physical well-being as well. Below is a shortlist of several ways surgeons have been shown to effectively handle stressful situations:

1. Finding a Work-Life Balance

It’s important to remember that your career is not your life. Getting too wrapped up in your work can make you feel stressed and exhausted. By creating a healthy balance between your professional and personal life, you can reduce stress significantly. There are several methods for finding a balance between work and personal time, from taking walks during lunch to practicing meditation during your commute home from work.

2. Focusing on Good Mental Health

Most surgeons will say their job is demanding and stressful. It’s well-known that work-related stress has mental and physical health consequences, including increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, anxiety, and depression. To reduce stress, surgeons can focus on their mental health. This starts with learning what good mental health looks like and permitting yourself to take time off to recharge.

3. Practicing Self Care

While stress is sometimes inevitable, there are plenty of strategies for managing it. If you want to practice self-care but don’t know where to start, here are some ways to combat stress in your day-to-day life

Exercising — Exercise boosts endorphins and increases levels of dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine helps us feel pleasure, while serotonin makes us feel less stressed.

Mindfulness techniques – Mindfulness allows us to recognize when we’re becoming stressed and to take steps toward positive change rather than feeling powerless or unable to act during stressful moments.

Overall, being a surgeon is one of those jobs that can be stressful. So many hinges on you making correct decisions and not making mistakes. And often, if you make a mistake or your patients aren’t doing well, it can feel like your whole career could be over. But generally speaking, it’s not all doom and gloom.

Surgeons are some of the best-paid medical professionals around—which makes sense given how important their services are to society—and even if your schedule does require lots of long hours, many surgeons will say they still love what they do.


1. What does it mean to be stressed?
According to Merriam-Webster, stress is the state of being subjected to strain or pressure. Within health care, stress can manifest itself in many ways, but most commonly it is experienced as anxiety.

2. How can I reduce stress if I’m looking to become a surgeon?
One strategy for reducing stress is to ensure you take care of yourself both physically and mentally by eating right and getting plenty of sleep.

3. How to prevent burnout from happening to me as a surgeon?
A healthy work/life balance is especially important for those in high-stress positions such as surgeons where we need to remain focused and energized for long periods.

4. How do surgeons cope with their high-stress job?
There are strategies surgeons use to manage stress on their jobs; you should also use them if they fit your needs. Here are some methods of coping with stress in surgery Journaling, for instance, can help to relieve stress through positive self-awareness that helps you recognize and then release negative emotions.

5. How do surgeons recover from depression?
Good mental health habits can help reduce or prevent issues such as anxiety and depression, but that won’t necessarily solve all of your problems.

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