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A qualitative study of medical oncologists' experiences of their profession and workforce sustainability


Broom, A and Wong, WKT and Kirby, E and Sibbritt, D and Karikios, D and Harrup, R and Lwin, Z, A qualitative study of medical oncologists' experiences of their profession and workforce sustainability, PLoS ONE, 11, (11) Article e0166302. ISSN 1932-6203 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0166302


Background: Medical oncology is a steadily evolving field of medical practice and professional pathway for doctors, offering value, opportunity and challenge to those who chose this medical specialty. This study examines the experiences of a group of Australian medical oncologists, with an emphasis on their professional practice, career experiences, and e xisting and emerging challenges across career stages.

Methods: In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with 22 medical oncologists, including advanced trainees, early-career consultants and senior consultants, focusing on: professional values and experiences; career prospects and pathways; and, the nexus of the characteristics of the profession and delivery of care.

Results: The following themes were emergent from the interviews: the need for professional reinvention and the pressure to perform; the importance, and often absence, of mentoring and feedback loops; the emotional labour of oncology; and, the impact of cascading workload volume on practice sustainability.

Conclusions: Understanding professional experiences, career trajectories and challenges at the workforce level are crucial for understanding what drives the oncological care day-to-day. The results indicate that there are considerable potential tensions between the realities of professional, workforce demands and expectations for patient care. Such tensions have real and significant consequences on individual medical oncologists with respect to their futures aspirations, satisfaction with work, caring practices, interactions with patients and potentially therapeutic outcomes.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Health services and systems not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the health sciences
UTAS Author:Harrup, R (Dr Rosemary Harrup)
ID Code:119663
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:12
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2017-08-03
Last Modified:2017-10-23

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