PURPOSE - To evaluate satisfaction with work-life balance (WLB) and career plans of US oncologists.
METHODS - The American Society of Clinical Oncology conducted a survey of US oncologists evaluating satisfaction with WLB and career plans between October 2012 and March 2013. The sample included equal numbers of men and women from all career stages.
RESULTS - Of 2,998 oncologists contacted, 1,490 (49.7%) returned surveys. From 1,117 oncologists (37.3% of overall sample) completing full-length surveys, we evaluated satisfaction with WLB and career plans among the 1,058 who were not yet retired. The proportion of oncologists satisfied with WLB (n = 345; 33.4%) ranked lower than that reported for all other medical specialties in a recent national study. Regarding career plans, 270 oncologists (26.5%) reported a moderate or higher likelihood of reducing their clinical work hours in the next 12 months, 351 (34.3%) indicated a moderate or higher likelihood of leaving their current position within 24 months, and 273 (28.5%) planned to retire before 65 years of age. Multivariable analyses found women oncologists (odds ratio [OR], 0.458; P < .001) and those who devoted greater time to patient care (OR for each additional hour, 0.977; P < .001) were less likely to be satisfied with WLB. Satisfaction with WLB and burnout were the strongest predictors of intent to reduce clinical work hours and leave current position on multivariable analysis.
CONCLUSION - Satisfaction with WLB among US oncologists seems lower than for other medical specialties. Dissatisfaction with WLB shows a strong relationship with plans to reduce hours and leave current practice. Given the pending US oncologist shortage, additional studies exploring interactions among WLB, burnout, and career satisfaction and their impact on career and retirement plans are warranted.