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Why Are Surgeons Jerks?

Surgeons have always gotten a bad rap for their nonchalant attitude towards coworkers and even with patients and their families. Because of their aloof no-nonsense approach, many see surgeons as jerks.

Of course, it doesn’t help that movies and tv shows have portrayed them as the jocks and bad boys of the medical world. From sarcastic diagnosticians, smart-mouthed boy genius doctors, or a good surgeon with savant syndrome, each physician has been depicted by Hollywood as individuals with questionable tempers and awkward social attitudes, especially towards others.

No matter what the job title is, it is possible to be branded a jerk. They are various reasons why a person can be thought of as obnoxious. But in many instances, surgeons appear to be the bearer of jerk-ish behavior due to work-related factors.

Possible reasons why surgeons are jerks

The most common reasons a person can be thought of as obnoxious and a bit of a donkey’s backside are as follows:

Work stress

Surgeons work long hours, this is a fact. Finding a surgeon working in the operating theater for long stretches of time (sometimes days) is not at all uncommon. Many surgical procedures are complex and require careful and precise actions in order to successfully completed.

The amount of time spent working and trying to determine the best course of action can be stressful for any person, including the most experienced surgeon.


The burdens of stress are generally accompanied by the feeling of anxiety. In a work environment where every little move must be carefully calculated it is vital to remain calm and collected. However, when the procedure is a major one and the life of the patient depends highly on the success of the operation, even the most tenured surgeon can encounter feelings of anxiety.

Who wouldn’t? When your work is highly dependent on for the survival of another life, it is only normal for a professional to become anxious. Most of the time the feeling passes once the stressor is no longer in the picture. When stress is part of the workload and the individual has no other outlet to relieve these emotions they act out unknowingly and become jerks. Unresolved anxiety issues can linger and worsen, this then affects a person’s everyday life, personal relationships, and performance at work.

In worse case scenarios, some individuals suffer from anxiety attacks which can further cripple their daily life. Attacks can manifest with little to no warning and can last from minutes to hours. Those who have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder feel overwhelmed and are extremely irritable jerks.

Lack of sleep

Not getting ample shut-eye or sleep deprivation makes any person wake up irritable and annoyed the next day. Imagine being in the shoes of a surgeon who has been in the operating room for more than 20 hours for days at a time.

Quality sleep is crucial for the mind and the body. When we sleep our body is able to recharge and regenerate cells. The lack of sleep cuts down these processes. And when a person feels tired constantly or they find themselves suffering from sleep disorders, acting obnoxious is to be expected. The Center for Disease Control recommends that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. And anyone who has ever worked in the medical field knows that surgeons are the least likely to reach this quota.

Clocking in enough quality sleep is crucial for health. Individuals who are only getting poor quality of sleeping do not reap the benefits a good night of rest can provide. Mental performance is decreased, immunity is compromised, and concentration is below average. Furthermore, staying up too much can cause depression and can lead to heart disease.

Life stresses

Tensions that arise from undergoing a period of extreme stress can cause a person to feel more moody and cantankerous than usual. Stress can come from a myriad of reasons. For some people, stress factors can be a result of trauma, work, school, or even grief. Overwhelming emotions are difficult to manage and trying to keep a good balance can be challenging. And the moment a person or in this case a surgeon is unable to deal with all these rising feelings, it’s likely they will feel less tolerant of those that surround them.

Stress is not a foreign concept and it is normal for people to experience it. The trouble is when it is felt for a long period of time, this can then lead to an individual dealing with emotional exhaustion. To avoid this, one must be able to recognize the symptoms so that he can take the necessary steps to avoid burnout.

Poor health

Any person who is feeling unwell is prone to exhibit moody behavior. Since surgeons and many medical professionals have very little time outside of their work life, it is difficult for many to squeeze in a workout. Other than a lack of exercise, poor diet is another factor that can affect the overall outlook a person has.

How do these all affect a person’s attitude? Simply put, exercise releases endorphins (happy hormones) therefore, anybody who regularly worksout is essentially happier than someone who doesn’t. Similarly, when a person doesn’t eat on time or misses out on a meal their blood sugar dips causing a person to experience headaches making him grumpy and prone to lash out on others.

Nobody likes a jerk

Being a jerk due to the aforementioned reasons is not excusable. Treating others nicely and with respect should be common practice. It is also something to be expected from professionals, particularly those who regularly interact with patients and their loved ones. Due to the environment, medical experts work in, acting with compassion, care, and understanding can do wonders to a person’s wellbeing. Unfortunately, surgeons who act like jerks tend to have negative energy that affects those they interact with.

In order to clean up the image of physicians and surgeons who are perceived as jerks, hospitals have been encouraging their staff to live healthier lifestyles. Some hospitals have started including state-of-the-art gyms that can be accessed by their employees. Better cafeteria menus have also been rolled out, this is to ensure that everyone is getting the right amount of nutrients in their diets. Other hospitals have made it a point to ensure that surgeons, other physicians, and healthcare providers with mental support through in-house therapists. These little additions force medical workers to take better care of themselves and in essence  become positive and happy individuals, instead of the jerks that they are sometimes thought to be.

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