AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 4, 2018

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Stress Does Not Always Lead to Burnout

Editor’s Note: There is too much talk about physician burnout. This amazing story, recounts how one military family endured not just the stress of neurosurgery but also an overseas deployment.  Clearly, family support is an important tactic in preventing burnout. Read this and be inspired!

When Ronnie left, we had three littles at home – the youngest was not yet two years old. I tend to be fairly independent; I think most neurosurgeon’s spouses have to be. So although I knew it would be hard, I wasn’t too nervous about flying solo during his four-month overseas stint. I was also very proud of Ronnie serving our country in such a unique, selfless and honorable way. I truly considered it (then and now still) to be a great honor and amazing opportunity. We briefly considered moving the entire family overseas for the few months he would be there. Unfortunately, due to atypical circumstances, Ronnie was going to be on-call every day. That, coupled with the fact that our oldest would end up missing three months of school, led us to decide to remain stateside.

So, we buckled down and survived fairly well, in my opinion. The worst part of managing the house while he was gone was the absence of structure and orderliness he imparts. Ronnie is a complete “type A” and I am a “type B” who tends to prioritize experiencing life and having fun more than checking boxes and structure. We definitely balance each other. As you can imagine, there was a little bit of an adjustment period once he returned home.

But overall, we handled it well. At the end of his time in Landstuhl, I had the opportunity to go over and spend a week with him. He had saved all his days off for the end of his time so that we could have a little vacation together. I was grateful for his sacrifice and hard work to make that happen for us. I had the chance to meet most of Ronnie’s coworkers in Landstuhl, which was a really neat experience. They were so grateful to have him there and spoke very highly of him.


Read more

Sabbatical: Is this Burnout’s Enemy?

Physician Heal Thyself


It was a unique camaraderie that you do not often see in the workplace. At the end of our time, the staff presented him with a special and very meaningful plaque in appreciation. We also had the opportunity to spend some quality time with some of his coworkers, which I enjoyed. I even, to this day, still keep in touch with one of his Landstuhl coworkers.

All in all it was a tough, grueling, but truly amazing and honorable experience. I honestly would do it again, but next time I’d take the kids and move there for the few months. It really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Our family supported each other to make it all work while Dad/Husband worked to support the U.S. Military. That’s what makes our lives good.

The views expressed in this presentation do not represent the official policy or opinion of the United States Navy, Defense Health Agency, Department of Defense, or the United States Government.

Calendar/Courses

2019 Mayo Clinic Advancements in Surgical & Medical Management of the Spine
Jan. 13-17, 2019; Kohala Coast, Big Island, Hawaii

Pituitary Education Day
Jan. 16-18, 2019; Orlando, Fla.

Innovations in Endoscopic Minimally Invasive Brain Surgery
Jan. 16-19, 2019; Celebration, Fla.

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Deborah Benzil | June 18, 2018 at 11:06 am

Very inspiring! Thanks for sharing so honestly