Shaping your career to maximize satisfaction in the practice of oncology

Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Hematology, Rochester, MN, USA
Journal of Clinical Oncology (Impact Factor: 18.43). 09/2006; 24(24):4020-6. DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2006.05.8248
Source: PubMed


The practice of oncology can be a source of both great satisfaction and great stress. Although many oncologists experience burnout, depression, and dissatisfaction with work, others experience tremendous career satisfaction and achieve a high overall quality of life. Identifying professional goals, optimizing career fit, identifying and managing stressors specific to practice type, and achieving the optimal personal work-life balance can increase the likelihood of individual oncologists' achieving personal and professional satisfaction. In this article, we will explore how oncologists can accomplish these tasks and will examine several pervasive professional myths that often distort perspective. The article concludes in a conversation with four oncologists regarding what they find most meaningful about their work, how they manage career-specific stressors, and how they achieve balance between their personal and professional lives.

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    • "Cancer workers are exposed to a variety of work-related stressors including dealing with a clinical caseload that is emotionally taxing. It is well recognised that this may contribute to burnout and the literature suggests that approximately one third of cancer workers exhibit symptoms of burnout, core features of which are emotional exhaustion and disengagement (Girgis et al., 2009; Poulsen et al., 2011; Shanafelt et al., 2006). Burnout and work stress are negatively correlated with employees' health and well being and are positively associated with high desire to leave the organisation (Coffeng et al., 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose Two key recovery experiences mediating the relationship between work demands and well-being are psychological detachment and relaxation over leisure time. The process of recovery from work-related stress plays an important role in maintaining well-being, but is poorly understood in cancer workers. The aim of this exploratory study was to examine the relationships of burnout, psychological well-being and work engagement with the recovery experiences of psychological detachment and relaxation in oncology staff. Methods A cross sectional survey of 573 cancer workers in Queensland was conducted (response rate 56%). Oncology nurses (n = 211) represented the largest professional group. Staff completed surveys containing demographics and psychosocial questionnaires measuring burnout, psychological distress, work engagement and recovery experience. Multiple regression analyses were performed to identify explanatory variables which were independently associated with Recovery Experience Score (RES). Results There was a negative association between the RES and burnout (p = 0.002) as well as psychological distress (p < 0.0001), but not work engagement. Age >25 years was negatively correlated with RES as was having a post graduate qualification, being married or divorced, having carer commitments. Participating in strenuous exercise was associated with high recovery (p = 0.015). Conclusions The two recovery experiences of psychological detachment and relaxation had a strong negative association to burnout and psychological well-being, but not work engagement. Further research needs to be undertaken to better understand if improving recovery experience reduces burnout and improves the well-being of cancer workers.
    European Journal of Oncology Nursing 09/2014; 19(1). DOI:10.1016/j.ejon.2014.08.003 · 1.43 Impact Factor
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    • "[10]. In oncology additional strain is produced by the frequency of the deliverance of bad news and dealing with patient's death and suffering [11]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Ongoing changes in cancer care cause an increase in the complexity of cases which is characterized by modern treatment techniques and a higher demand for patient information about the underlying disease and therapeutic options. At the same time, the restructuring of health services and reduced funding have led to the downsizing of hospital care services. These trends strongly influence the workplace environment and are a potential source of stress and burnout among professionals working in radiotherapy. A postal survey was sent to members of the workgroup "Quality of Life" which is part of DEGRO (German Society for Radiooncology). Thus far, 11 departments have answered the survey. 406 (76.1%) out of 534 cancer care workers (23% physicians, 35% radiographers, 31% nurses, 11% physicists) from 8 university hospitals and 3 general hospitals completed the FBAS form (Stress Questionnaire of Physicians and Nurses; 42 items, 7 scales), and a self-designed questionnaire regarding work situation and one question on global job satisfaction. Furthermore, the participants could make voluntary suggestions about how to improve their situation. Nurses and physicians showed the highest level of job stress (total score 2.2 and 2.1). The greatest source of job stress (physicians, nurses and radiographers) stemmed from structural conditions (e.g. underpayment, ringing of the telephone) a "stress by compassion" (e.g. "long suffering of patients", "patients will be kept alive using all available resources against the conviction of staff"). In multivariate analyses professional group (p < 0.001), working night shifts (p = 0.001), age group (p = 0.012) and free time compensation (p = 0.024) gained significance for total FBAS score. Global job satisfaction was 4.1 on a 9-point scale (from 1 - very satisfied to 9 - not satisfied). Comparing the total stress scores of the hospitals and job groups we found significant differences in nurses (p = 0.005) and physicists (p = 0.042) and a borderline significance in physicians (p = 0.052).In multivariate analyses "professional group" (p = 0.006) and "vocational experience" (p = 0.036) were associated with job satisfaction (cancer care workers with < 2 years of vocational experience having a higher global job satisfaction). The total FBAS score correlated with job satisfaction (Spearman-Rho = 0.40; p < 0.001). Current workplace environments have a negative impact on stress levels and the satisfaction of radiotherapy staff. Identification and removal of the above-mentioned critical points requires various changes which should lead to the reduction of stress.
    Radiation Oncology 02/2009; 4(1):6. DOI:10.1186/1748-717X-4-6 · 2.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Effective doctor-patient communication is an integral part of good clinical care. Telling a patient that he/she has cancer can be a daunting task. If done with empathy and sensitivity it can create an important bond between the doctor and patient. If done brusquely and without tact it can create barriers and lasting hostility. Several key steps help make the breaking of bad news easier for doctors and patients. There is not one 'right formula' but appreciation of and responsiveness to the patient's verbal and non-verbal signals are core skills which can be developed.
    Postgraduate Medical Journal 02/1996; 72(843):25-9. DOI:10.1136/pgmj.72.843.25 · 1.45 Impact Factor
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