June 11, 2014

Are Surgeons Dumber than Anesthesiologists?

The British Medical Journal in 2011 published a multicenter prospective comparative study comparing the intelligence of orthopedic surgeons and anesthesiologists. Before I give you the answer, a little history...

Traditionally, orthopedic surgeons have the unfortunate stereotype in the medical community of being  strong but stupid. Although making fun of orthopedic surgeons is a popular past-time among physicians giving rise to a number of jokes including:
What do you call two orthopaedic surgeons looking at a chest X-ray? ANSWER: A double blind study.
Anesthesiologists are considered quite the opposite. Although occasionally teased as gas-passers, they are respected as being quite the Einsteins.

Check out this video illustrating just how much smarter anesthesiologists are compared to orthopedic surgeons.

BUT... are such stereotypes true?

Well... according to the BMJ study conducted in three United Kingdom hospitals, orthopedic surgeons are significantly more intelligent than anesthesiologists based on IQ scores (the Mensa Brain Test version 1.1.0 was used to measure intelligence). The mean intelligence test score of orthopaedic surgeons was  105.19 compared with 98.38 for anesthetists (the higher the score, the smarter).

According to the same study, the orthopedic surgeons were not only smarter than anesthesiologists, they were also significantly stronger based on dominant hand grip strength.

So orthopedic surgeons are undeservedly viewed as being stupid when they are actually quite smart!!!

Orthopaedic surgeons: as strong as an ox and almost twice as clever? Multicentre prospective comparative study. BMJ 2011; 343 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d7506 (Published 15 December 2011)
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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