OpAlert - Surgical Assisting Australia

How many hours are in the ‘average’ working week for a surgeon!

The Royal College of Surgeons represents over 7500 surgeons working in Australia and New Zealand. We all know that medical professionals often lead a busy life. Finding a work-life balance can be difficult at times. Surgeons are no exception. Working within the surgical field, and indeed any medical field, is an honour. Many surgeons love their profession to the extent that some of the long days don’t always feel like ‘work’. The long hours are often ingrained from their surgical training days, and continue throughout their consultant life.

The Royal College of Surgeons provides us with information on the sector from ‘workforce census’ data. The last published one was in 2014 and makes for a very interesting read.

The average Australia/New Zealand surgeon is working 53 hours per week. This has increased from 51 hours in 2011. This compares to a sector average for medical professionals of 42.8 hours per week. This additional 10 hours per week may not sound like much, however it represents a 25% increase, and may be the difference from finishing work at 5pm each day, compared to 7pm.


While the data doesn’t indicate how many days per week this represents, it is easy to see that this requires some long days at work with or without the addition of working across the weekend. We all know that if you are a surgeon working in private practice, that you take responsibility for your patients throughout the entire working week, and not just Monday – Friday.


Interestingly, when looking at age groups and the average hours worked per week, those in the 50-59 year old category are most likely to work the greatest number of hours per week. This tends to indicate that this pattern of working behaviour continues throughout ones surgical career.


About two thirds of surgeons are taking 4 or more weeks per year off as annual leave. This precious time away to be able to mentally unwind and relax is invaluable. It allows one to catch up with family and friends and take a step back from the hectic pace of the working week. With one in ten surgeons having sought professional assistance for stress or mental health issues, you cannot over state the importance of this time away.


We work in a beautiful country, in an amazing profession, and are very lucky to do so. While working long days may be here to stay, please ensure that you allow some time away to rejuvenate and return to work refreshed and recharged!

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