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"I Learn Something in Most CPD Opportunities That I Take Seriously": The Unexamined Impact of the Surgical Ego on CPD Engagement


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Continuing professional development (CPD) is a requisite component of being a surgeon. However, to engage in meaningful professional development requires insight into ones knowledge or skill gap. The surgical ego at its most narcissistic extreme would intuitively exclude the ability to realize ones limitations and interfere with purposeful engagement in CPD. Thus, we sought to better understand the surgical ego and how it impacts the surgeons engagement in CPD. DESIGN: Surgeons were interviewed utilizing a semi-structured interview guide. Thematic analysis of the data was conducted. SETTING: Participants were located at an academic military level one trauma center. PARTICIPANTS: Staff surgeons were purposively sampled to capture a variety of surgical specialties. RESULTS: There are some characteristics of the surgical ego that are necessary to bolster the role of a successful surgeon. These characteristics can have a beneficial effect enabling the surgeon to self-reflect and engage in CPD. However, when the role of the surgical ego surpassed the capability of humility and self-awareness, it overpowered the realization of the need for CPD and negatively impacted lifelong learning. CONCLUSIONS: The surgical ego does exist and is a key component of the surgical professional identity/role. It has the ability to both positively and negatively impact CPD. Taking into consideration the impact of role strain, CPD can be delivered in such a way as to circumvent some aspects of the surgical ego while simultaneously harnessing other aspects.



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