Practice Longer and Stronger: Maximizing the Physical Well-Being of Surgical Residents with Targeted Ergonomics Training

Heidi Allespach, Matthew Sussman, Jessica Bolanos, Carl I. Schulman, Elias Atri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Pain and disability among surgeons can lead to practice restrictions, early retirement, and physician burnout. This project sought to address the physical well-being of surgical residents by teaching ergonomic principles, a “microbreaks” model, and stretching exercises aimed at targeting the four anatomical areas identified as most problematic for surgeons. DESIGN: Three modules, led by physical therapists, were presented to surgical residents over the course of the 2018-2019 academic year. These modules targeted specific problem areas for surgeons according to current literature. A perioperative micro-break model was also presented. Pre- and post-lecture surveys were administered to document pain, applicability of lecture content and effectiveness for use in the operating room (OR), and were reviewed retrospectively. SETTING: Jackson Memorial Hospital, DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery, Division of General Surgery, Miami, Florida RESULTS: A large number of participants reported pain in one or more body part (87%) prior to beginning this ergonomic training and 39% indicated that this pain was performance-limiting. The majority of residents (93%) who attended Module #3 reported that learning the targeted exercises and microbreaks model would help them physically perform better in the OR and, in fact, after practicing these exercises during this Module, 85% of residents reported decreased pain, especially in the areas of the cervical and lumbar spine. CONCLUSIONS: Preliminary data indicate that this novel curriculum was perceived as valuable by surgical residents and that practicing these targeted exercises reduced pain, particularly in the neck and lower back. Further research is needed to determine the longitudinal effects of this ergonomics curriculum on surgical resident well-being and whether these exercises will be effective in reducing pain and enhancing performance in the OR setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1024-1027
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • Ergonomics
  • Physician wellness
  • Resident health
  • Surgical residents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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