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What Drives Female Resident Burnout Rates? with Karl Bilimoria, MD & Yue-Yung Hu, MD

In a recent Northwestern Medicine study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, female surgical residents reported more mistreatment than men, which was linked to a higher burnout rates and more suicidal thoughts. Study authors Karl Bilimoria, MD & Yue-Yung Hu, MD explain.


Yue-Yung Hu, MD

"For gender discrimination, about half of it was from patients and (patient's) families. For sexual harassment, it's a mix of patients and families attending surgeons and it a little bit less from co-residents. So, it just depends on the particular type of mistreatment."

— Yue-Yung Hu, MD, MPH

  • Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Division of Pediatric Surgery
  • Faculty member, Surgical Outcomes Quality Improvement Center

"I was struck by the fact that a lot of the discrimination came from patients and (patient's) families and that you have to really focus in on that, because if you're going to intervene and retrain all the faculty and retrain all the people in the hospital about how not to engage in that kind of behavior, that's not going to be effective because we have to talk about the patients and families."

—Karl Bilimoria, MD, ’08 MS, ’10 GME

  • Vice Chair for Quality, Department of Surgery
  • John Benjamin Murphy Professor of Surgery
  • Associate Professor of Surgery in the Division of Surgical Oncology
  • Associate Professor of Medical Social Science
  • Director of the Surgical Outcomes and Quality Improvement Center of Northwestern University 
Karl Bilimoria, MD & Yue-Yung Hu, MD

Episode Notes

The journey to becoming a surgeon is a long and demanding, but for women who want to break into this male dominated field, it's even tougher.

A Northwestern Medicine study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that women surgical residents suffer more mistreatment than men, which leads to a higher burnout rate and more suicidal thoughts among female residents.

However, when the study authors adjusted for the occurrence of mistreatment (discrimination, harassment, abuse), the rates of burnout were similar for men and women residents. The results of the study come from a survey of trainees in all accredited 260 U.S. general surgical residency programs, with 99 percent of trainees responding. 

Additional Reading:

  • SECOND Trial (Surgical Education Culture Optimization Through Targeted Interventions Based on National Comparative Data)
  • Hu's faculty profile 

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Continuing Medical Education Credit

Physicians who listen to this podcast may claim continuing medical education credit after listening to an episode of this program.

Target Audience

Academic/Research, Multiple specialties

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify the research interests and initiatives of Feinberg faculty.
  2. Discuss new updates in clinical and translational research.
Accreditation Statement

The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Credit Designation Statement

The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine designates this Enduring Material for a maximum of 0.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Disclosure Statement

Karl Bilimoria, MD, MS, and Yue-Yung Hu, MD, MPH, have nothing to disclose. Course director, Robert Rosa, MD, has nothing to disclose. Planning committee member, Erin Spain, has nothing to disclose. Feinberg School of Medicine's CME Leadership and Staff have nothing to disclose: Clara J. Schroedl, MD, Medical Director of CME, Sheryl Corey, Manager of CME, Jennifer Banys, Senior Program Administrator, Allison McCollum, Senior Program Coordinator, and Rhea Alexis Banks, Administrative Assistant 2.

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