A national survey on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic upon burnout and career satisfaction among neurosurgery residents

Adham M. Khalafallah, Shravika Lam, Abhishek Gami, David L. Dornbos, Walavan Sivakumar, Jeremiah N. Johnson, Debraj Mukherjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has posed significant changes to resident education and workflow. However, the impact of the pandemic on U.S. neurosurgery residents has not been well characterized. We investigated the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. neurosurgery resident workflow, burnout, and career satisfaction. In 2020, a survey evaluating factors related to career satisfaction and burnout was emailed to 1,374 American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) residents. Bivariate and multivariate (logistic) analyses were performed to characterize predictors of burnout and career satisfaction. 167 survey responses were received, with a response rate (12.2%) comparable to that of similar studies. Exclusion of incomplete responses yielded 111 complete responses. Most respondents were male (65.8%) and White (75.7%). Residents reported fewer work hours (67.6%) and concern that COVID-19 would impair their achievement of surgical milestones (65.8%). Burnout was identified in 29 (26.1%) respondents and career satisfaction in 82 (73.9%) respondents. In multivariate analysis, burnout was significantly associated with alterations in elective rotation/vacation schedules (p = .013) and the decision to not pursue neurosurgery again if given the choice (p < .001). Higher post-graduate year was associated with less burnout (p = .011). Residents displayed greater career satisfaction when focusing their clinical work upon neurosurgical care (p = .065). Factors related to COVID-19 have contributed to workflow changes among U.S. neurosurgery residents. We report a moderate burnout rate and a paradoxically high career satisfaction rate among neurosurgery residents. Understanding modifiable stressors during the COVID-19 pandemic may help to formulate interventions to mitigate burnout and improve career satisfaction among residents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-142
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Burnout
  • COVID-19
  • Career satisfaction
  • Neurosurgery
  • Pandemic
  • Residents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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