Send to

Choose Destination
J Surg Educ. 2010 Nov-Dec;67(6):359-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2010.07.007. Epub 2010 Nov 5.

A psychological profile of surgeons and surgical residents.

Author information

Department of Surgery, Maricopa Integrated Health Systems, Phoenix, Arizona, USA.



Approximately 20 percent of general surgery residents never complete their original residency programs. The psychological, programmatic, and financial costs for this attrition are substantial for both the residents, who spend valuable time and money pursuing incompatible career paths, and the residency programs, which also lose valuable time and money invested in these residents. There is a large amount of information in the field about the performance dimensions and skill sets of surgeons and surgical residents. To date, however, no research has been conducted on important process and content dimensions, which are critical in determining good person-job fit.


A research team from the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University and Maricopa Medical Center conducted descriptive research to determine the work-related personality and interest variables of attending surgeons and surgical residents. Sixty-three surgical residents and 27 attending/teaching surgeons completed 2 sections (interests and personality scales) of the World of Work Inventory Online (WOWI Online). This multidimensional assessment was offered to all attending/teaching surgeons and surgical residents at Maricopa Medical Center.


All members of the Department of Surgery participated in the trial. Based on the attending/teaching and high-performing resident profiles, a stable interest and personality profile emerged, which highlights the unique characteristics necessary to identify those who would be most satisfied with and suitable for work as surgeons. The profiles of the attending/teaching surgeons and the high-performing residents were similar. This contrasted with the interest and personality profiles of low-performing residents. The differences in the 2 groups' profiles provide insight into low performance and possible incompatibility with surgical residency, and possibly with general surgery as a profession choice.


The WOWI Online assessment tool provides a stable profile of successful surgeons. This tool also demonstrates differences in the interest and personality profiles between high and low performing surgical residents. It may be useful as an indicator of success in surgical residency and in surgery as a profession.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center