Revitalizing Oncology: A Strategic Plan for Clinician Well-Being in the Face of Burnout

This text is based on the article Creating a Blueprint of Well-Being in Oncology: An Approach for Addressing Burnout From ASCO's Clinician Well-Being Taskforce, published in PubMed in June 2021

In the demanding landscape of oncology, the well-being of clinicians holds great importance. Caring for seriously ill patients in an ever-evolving healthcare environment places immense demands on oncology professionals. The core principles of patient autonomy, respect, harm avoidance, and justice, forming the basis for optimal care delivery, are under threat due to rising administrative burdens, demands for electronic medical records, and the changing medical landscape. The ASCO Clinician Well-Being Task Force brings attention to the prevalence, contributors, and consequences of burnout, emphasizing the need to enhance oncology clinician well-being for the betterment of patient care, organizational success, and workforce sustainability.

Amidst the complexities of oncology care, burnout and moral distress emerge as significant challenges, amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has unfolded in a context of heightened burnout, significantly impacting oncologists and their teams. Stressors on clinicians' personal and professional lives underscore the immediate need for attention. Recognition of the misalignment of professional and organizational values intensifies moral distress. Addressing these issues necessitates a comprehensive approach, considering the broader oncology team, including advanced practice providers.

The ASCO Clinician Well-Being Task Force stands committed to improving the quality, safety, and value of cancer care by prioritizing the well-being of oncology clinicians and ensuring the sustainability of oncology practices. Initiatives like the ASCO Quality Training Program equip teams to design and implement interventions that alleviate burnout. This focus on empowerment and recognition of well-being contributes not only to the health and fulfilment of clinicians but also to the overall success of oncology organizations.

Insights from the ASCO Clinician Well-Being Task Force underscore practical applications for the cancer community. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing burnout issues, underscoring the urgent need for intervention. Direct access to resources is imperative for addressing team burnout, ensuring sustained quality patient care, and maintaining workforce health. Organizations should consider adopting a detailed blueprint targeting all stakeholders, fostering a culture of community and prioritizing programs, culture transformation, research, and practice sustainability. Now, more than ever, is the time to empower oncology teams, fostering a path forward in the face of adversity and uncertainty.

This text is part of the European Cancer Organisation (ECO) repository of best practices and innovations to address the cancer workforce crisis in Europe. You can find more examples of best practices here.