American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes


Well-Being in the Time of the COVID-19 Pandemic

At present, 52 percent of surgeons report that they are experiencing burnout, and COVID-19 is adding to our professional demands. The American College of Surgeons (ACS) is committed to the health and well-being of surgeons and other members of the health care community. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is particularly important to create space to care for oneself amidst the increased demands of caring for patients, providing additional support to hospital systems and staff, managing workload, and navigating the impact that COVID-19 has on individuals, families, communities, hospitals, and our world.

The Surgeon Well-Being section of the ACS website is continually updated with curated articles, resources, and tools focused on well-being. One invaluable benefit available to Fellows and other members of the organization is the ACS Surgeon Well-Being Index, a validated, confidential screening tool that helps them better understand their overall well-being and provides targeted resources to fit your needs.

This resource also identifies apps such as Calm and Headspace that offer guided meditations for mindfulness, stress, movement, and sleep. Following recommendations from the ACS to curtail “elective” surgical procedures, surgeons also may have more time and resources available to assist your colleagues and the surgical and health care communities. Moreover, helping others is beneficial for your own mental health and well-being. Ways surgeons can help during this unprecedented time include donating blood, staying in touch with colleagues, supporting local organizations and businesses, and checking in on vulnerable neighbors.

Managing Stress

Every one of us surgeons has lived a life of stress management. Some are better at it than others, but we all deal with it. Different in this moment is that unlike our previous experiences, the 2020 pandemic is simply “novel”. With all the pressures and changes of routine delivery of medical care are pressures of family, finances and grief. We all want to get the job done, but our minds our filled with urgency and so we want to be “fast” as well as effective.

Rushing to do tasks is a formula for being ineffective. The Navy Seals have a saying, “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.” In your daily crush of activities, concentrate on the task before you and don’t rush. Take a breath and concentrate. You’ll find obsessive thoughts and feelings of being overwhelmed fade. By being deliberate, smooth and “slow” you will actually get more done, do it right the first time and move on to the next task smoothly (and quickly).

List of Helpful Books

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman—Recommended by David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS

The Outward Mind Set by The Arbinger Institute—Recommended by Beth Sutton, MD

Stillness Is the Key by Ryan Holiday—Recommended by Tyler Hughes, MD