Survey Med Onc Fellows' Burnout, Communication Skills

Survey of medical oncology fellows' burnout, communication skills, and perceived competencies.

J. L. Armstrong, J. Holland;

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY

Abstract: Background: We sought to investigate the degree of burnout, perceived competencies in communication skills, and the delivery of psychosocial care among Medical Oncology fellows at our institution.

Methods: A written survey was distributed to fellows who attended a workshop in communication skills training at the beginning of the academic year.

The survey included demographic questions, the Maslach Burnout Inventory, and a Likert scale on the experience of discussing end of life, informed consent, and error disclosure.

Results: Sixteen of the 18 fellows completed the baseline survey: 8 first year, 4 second year, and 4 third year fellows; 13 women, 3 men; mixed ethnic and religiousBackgrounds; median age of 32.5 years.

Moderate to high emotional exhaustion and sense of diminished empathy were reported in 69%; moderate to high sense of personal accomplishment was reported in 63%. Fellows were most confident discussing informed consent and end of life issues but were less confident in breaking bad news and error disclosure.

Fellows frequently thought there was not enough time to give patients needed emotional attention. While the average fellow saw patients who were distressed and/or depressed nearly everyday, they referred a patient to social work or psychiatry once a week or less.

Conclusions: Fellows shared high rates of emotional exhaustion and diminished empathy, which are cardinal burnout symptoms. However, they reported moderately high sense of personal accomplishment.

They reported thinking they did not have enough time to give patients needed emotional attention, and may be under-utilizing supportive services for distressed and depressed patients.

Abstract No: 8132

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