Is Grit the New Fit?—Assessing Non-Cognitive Variables in Orthopedic Surgery Trainees

Emil B. Kurian, Vishal S. Desai, Norman S. Turner, Brian M. Grawe, Anne M. Kelly, Aaron J. Krych, Christopher L. Camp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine overall levels of grit, self-control, and conscientiousness among orthopedic surgery residents, to compare levels of grit across orthopedic resident training levels, and to identify common applicant variables which may correlate with these valuable noncognitive attributes. Design: A cross-sectional study composed of a confidential electronic survey consisting of a 17-item Grit scale, 10-item Self-control scale, and 9-item Conscientiousness scale was completed by Orthopedic residents and fellows. Setting: Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN; a tertiary medical center. Participants: Grit, ambition, consistency of interest, perseverance of effort, self-control, and conscientiousness were assessed in orthopedic surgery residents and fellows. The survey was distributed to program coordinators of ACGME accredited Orthopedic Surgery residency programs and fellowship. 431 (431 out of 621, 69.4%) respondents completed the assessment. Results: Orthopedic residents demonstrated high baseline levels of grit (4.0 of 5.0), self-control (3.8 of 5.0), and conscientiousness (4.4 of 5.0). The grit score of 4.0 places them in the 65th percentile of the general adult population. There were no significant differences in scores between training levels of orthopedic residents and fellows. Significantly higher self-control scores were seen in female trainees (p = 0.042), inductees of Alpha Omega Alpha honor society (p = 0.008), and those with higher numbers of publications (p = 0.037). Orthopedic trainees with more publications scored higher in the ambition sub-score (0 publications: 4.0 ± 0.7; 1-3 publications: 4.2 ± 0.5, 3 or more publications: 4.3 ± 0.5; p < 0.001). Conclusions: Orthopedic surgery residents demonstrated high levels of grit compared to the general population. Key objective variables utilized in the residency application process including Alpha Omega Alpha status and volume of research publications were predictive of these qualities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)924-930
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  • Orthopedic surgery residency
  • Practice-Based Learning and Improvement
  • Professionalism
  • conscientiousness
  • grit
  • residency applicants
  • self-control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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