The Fuel Gauge: A Simple Tool for Assessing General Surgery Resident Well-Being

Holly B. Weis, Audra T. Clark, Shannon A. Scielzo, Joshua J. Weis, Deborah Farr, Abier Abdelnaby, David C. Weigle, Salahuddin Kazi, Kareem R. AbdelFattah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: Resident well-being is an increasingly relevant issue in medical education; however, there is no consensus on how to best measure well-being. The “fuel gauge,” is a simple, easy-to-use tool developed to measure resident well-being and previously applied in an Internal Medicine Residency Program at our institution. The current study sought to evaluate its acceptability and usefulness in a surgery program. Design: Weekly fuel gauge data was retrospectively collected from August 2017 through December 2018 along with resident Postgraduate Year designations. Setting: This study was conducted at a single, large general surgery residency program that rotates through a variety of hospitals, including a University hospital, a large county hospital, a Veterans Affairs hospital, and a freestanding Children's hospital. Participants: Categorical general surgery residents at every level of training as well as preliminary interns and off service intern rotators from urology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, and otolaryngology were eligible for the study. Fuel gauge submissions which did not denote a score were excluded from analysis. Results: Out of 130 residents, 103 (79.2%) completed at least 1 fuel gauge assessment with a weekly mean response rate of 41.5%. Low scores were submitted by 39.8% of resident participants. Narrative feedback was provided in 6.2% of submissions with increased length associated with decreased fuel gauge score. Conclusions: The fuel gauge was well accepted by a large general surgery program with no decline in participation rates over the study period. The tool provided residents with a direct line of communication with their program's administration, and a feasible way for the program director's office to monitor and identify residents who were struggling with regard to their well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-33
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • burnout
  • feedback
  • fuel tank
  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  • Professionalism
  • resident evaluations
  • resident well-being
  • resident wellness
  • Systems-Based Practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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