Oncologists are overall very satisfied with their careers, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Tait D. Shanafelt, M.D., from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues surveyed U.S. oncologists (1,117 completed full length surveys; 49.6 percent women) to evaluate burnout and career satisfaction at all career stages.
The researchers found that 33.8 percent of the respondents were in academic practice (AP) and 43.2 percent were in private practice (PP). On average, oncologists worked 57.6 hours per week (AP, 58.6 hours per week; PP, 62.9 hours per week) and saw a mean of 52 outpatients per week. Based on the emotional exhaustion and/or depersonalization domain of Maslach Burnout Inventory, 44.7 percent of oncologists were burned out (AP, 45.9 percent; PP, 50.5 percent; P = 0.18).
In univariate and multivariate analyses, the primary professional predictor of burnout for both PP and AP oncologists was hours per week devoted to direct patient care. While the majority of oncologists in AP and PP were satisfied with their career (82.5 percent) and specialty (80.4 percent) choices, these career satisfaction measures were lower for those in PP than those in AP (all P < 0.006).
“Those oncologists who devote the greatest amount of their professional time to patient care seem to be at greatest risk for burnout,” the authors write.