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Invited Commentary
June 19, 2019

Time for Changes in the Surgical Community—Promoting Professionalism as #MeToo 2.0

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Cardiac Surgery, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Presbyterian Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • 2Department of Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Surg. Published online June 19, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2019.1739

When I (D.C.) was a medical student, a prominent attending surgeon struck my fingers with a surgical instrument because I was not holding the retractor correctly. The same surgeon also threw instruments across the room when he was handed the wrong instrument. Those behaviors were tolerated decades ago, and all incidents were kept behind closed doors.

The recent #MeToo movement has shed tremendous light on harassment in powerful fields, such as the entertainment industry and the media. However, a hostile workplace is unfortunately not uncommon in academic surgery departments. Surgeons experiencing hostility in the academic surgical environment may have fewer professional advancement opportunities, less satisfying clinical practice, and failed mentorship and may be at greater risk for burnout or other psychological effects.1 In the recent 14th Annual Academic Surgical Congress, the session titled “Overcoming Hostile Work and Learning Environment in Academic Surgery: Tools for Change at Every Level” shed light on not only the prevalence of unprofessional behavior in academic surgery but also identified means of addressing professional hostility.

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