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Extinguishing Burnout—Step 1: Awareness

March 4, 2019
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Burnout among U.S. healthcare providers is a national concern, and members of multidisciplinary cancer care teams are not exempt from the toll it can take. In an attempt to gauge the extent of burnout among oncology care teams, ACCC recently surveyed its membership using the clinically validated Mini Z survey developed by the American Medical Association. Only a small percentage of respondents (14.9%) reported dissatisfaction with their current job; however, respondents also reported experiencing significant levels of burnout and stress.

In fact, nearly 66 percent of survey respondents said they either agree or strongly agree with the statement, “I feel a great deal of stress because of my job.” Fifty-six percent ranked the atmosphere in their primary work area as a “4” or “5” on a scale of 1 to 5, in which 1 is “calm” and 5 is “hectic or chaotic.” Approximately 38 percent ranked their control over their workload as “poor” or “marginal,” compared to approximately 31 percent who ranked it as “good” or “optimal.”

These numbers indicate that prolonged stress is taking a toll among members of cancer care teams. Approximately 33 percent of survey respondents said they are “definitely burning out,” while nearly 16 percent said their symptoms of burnout “won’t go away.”  View survey infographic.

To address this alarming trend, ACCC President Tom Gallo, MS, MDA, chose Reflect, Renew, Reignite: Building a Resilient Oncology Team in Your Community for his 2018-2019 president’s theme. “Caring for cancer patients can be a drain—physically, intellectually, and emotionally,” says Gallo. “This is true for each member of the multidisciplinary cancer care team, starting with the receptionist who greets patients daily to the physician in whose hands patients place their trust.”

To engage cancer programs and practices in sharing strategies for fostering the resilience and wellness of all members of the care team, the upcoming ACCC 45th Annual Meeting & Cancer Center Business Summit in Washington, D.C., features sessions addressing the effect of burnout on cancer care teams. The meeting agenda includes a Deep Dive workshop on Clinician Resiliency and Workforce Issues on Friday, March 22 that will feature facilitators sharing their success stories in promoting resiliency in their organizations.

To continue the conversation about promoting well-being among cancer care teams, look for a series of articles in ACCC’s peer-reviewed journal, Oncology Issues, over the coming months. In each issue, the journal will share the success stories from cancer practices and programs that have made a start in tackling burnout among their staff.

Cultivating resiliency is not a one-and-done task. But by working with the cancer care community to address burnout in the workplace, ACCC and its membership are taking measures to engage and empower cancer practices and programs with workplace strategies that foster resiliency and well-being.

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