Do retired surgeons express regrets about their career?
A recently published study has evaluated the reflections of retired surgeons in North America on their life and career. Their results reveal that more than half (52.4%) of retired surgeons wish they had done things differently in the past. The most common (762 of 1233 [61.8%]) retrospective wish was to have achieved a healthier work-life balance, even if that meant pursuing a different surgical specialty, or even choosing a non-medical career.
These findings contradict the generally-held perception that older generations of surgeons placed less emphasis on their personal and family life than the current generation of surgical practitioners. A possible explanation for this contradiction might be that, despite their desire for a healthier work-life balance, earlier generations of surgeons practiced in an era when workplace requirements, professional regulations, and cultural norms were hardly conducive to any sort of constructive debate on work-life balance. With this wealth of prior experience, retired surgeons would appear to have a potential for mentoring their younger colleagues to help them to achieve a rewarding and fulfilling career and to avoid future regrets.
What are your own views? Do you have regrets about your career in retrospect? How can we help our younger colleagues in surgery achieve a better work-life balance and spend more time with their family?