Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Acad Med. 2011 Oct;86(10):1288-92. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31822c124a.

Seeking balance: the complexity of choice-making among academic surgeons.

Author information

Centre for Studies in Family Medicine, Department of Family Medicine, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.



This study describes the experiences of academic surgeons in seeking a balance between their personal and professional lives.


This phenomenological study, conducted in 2009-2010 at the University of Western Ontario, used in-depth individual semistructured interviews to explore the ideas, perceptions, and experiences of 17 recently recruited academic surgeons (nine women/eight men) about seeking balance between their personal and professional lives. All the interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. The data analysis was both iterative and interpretative.


All the participants expressed a passion and commitment to academic surgery, but their stories revealed the complexity of making choices in seeking a balance between their personal and professional lives. This process of making choices was filtered through influential values in their lives, which in turn determined how they set boundaries to protect their personal and family time from the demands of their professional obligations. Intertwined in this process were the trade-offs they had to make in order to seek balance. Some choices, boundary-setting strategies, and trade-offs were dictated by gender. Finally, the process of making choices was not static; instead, the data revealed how it was both dynamic and cyclical, requiring reexamination over the life cycle, as well as their career trajectory. Thus, seeking a balance was an ever-changing process.


Understanding how members of an academic department of surgery navigate the balance between their personal and professional worlds may provide new insights for other disciplines seeking to enhance the development of the next generation of academics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
    Loading ...
    Support Center