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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Addressing Burnout in Oncology: Why Cancer Care Clinicians Are At Risk, What Individuals Can Do, and How Organizations Can Respond

Fay J Hlubocky, Anthony L Back, Tait D Shanafelt
American Society of Clinical Oncology Educational Book 2016, 35: 271-9
27249706
Despite their benevolent care of others, today, more than ever, the cancer care professional who experiences overwhelming feelings of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy is in grave jeopardy of developing burnout. Clinicians are repeatedly physically and emotionally exposed to exceedingly long hours in direct care with seriously ill patients/families, limited autonomy over daily responsibilities, endless electronic documentation, and a shifting medical landscape. The physical and emotional well-being of the cancer care clinician is critical to the impact on quality care, patient satisfaction, and overall success of their organizations. The prevention of burnout as well as targeting established burnout need to be proactively addressed at the individual level and organizational level. In fact, confronting burnout and promoting wellness are the shared responsibility of both oncology clinicians and their organizations. From an individual perspective, oncology clinicians must be empowered to play a crucial role in enhancing their own wellness by identification of burnout symptoms in both themselves and their colleagues, learning resilience strategies (e.g., mindful self-compassion), and cultivating positive relationships with fellow clinician colleagues. At the organizational level, leadership must recognize the importance of oncology clinician well-being; engage leaders and physicians in collaborative action planning, improve overall practice environment, and provide institutional wellness resources to physicians. These effective individual and organizational interventions are crucial for the prevention and improvement of overall clinician wellness and must be widely and systematically integrated into oncology care.

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