PURPOSE - To evaluate the personal and professional characteristics associated with career satisfaction and burnout among US oncologists.
METHODS - Between October 2012 and March 2013, the American Society of Clinical Oncology conducted a survey of US oncologists evaluating burnout and career satisfaction. The survey sample included equal numbers of men and women and represented all career stages.
RESULTS - Of 2,998 oncologists contacted, 1,490 (49.7%) returned surveys (median age of respondents, 52 years; 49.6% women). Among the 1,117 oncologists (37.3% of overall sample) who completed full-length surveys, 377 (33.8%) were in academic practice (AP) and 482 (43.2%) in private practice (PP), with the remainder in other settings. Oncologists worked an average of 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. Overall, 484 oncologists (44.7%) were burned out on the emotional exhaustion and/or depersonalization domain of Maslach Burnout Inventory (AP, 45.9%; PP, 50.5%; P = .18). Hours per week devoted to direct patient care was the dominant professional predictor of burnout for both PP and AP oncologists on univariable and multivariable analyses. Although a majority of oncologists were satisfied with their career (82.5%) and specialty (80.4%) choices, both measures of career satisfaction were lower for those in PP relative to AP (all P < .006).
CONCLUSION - Overall career satisfaction is high among US oncologists, albeit lower for those in PP relative to AP. Burnout rates among oncologists seem similar to those described in recent studies of US physicians in general. Those oncologists who devote the greatest amount of their professional time to patient care seem to be at greatest risk for burnout.