Plight of oncologists: burnout and biotechnology
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The current state of medical training and practice is not beneficial for the patients nor the physicians: the only participants profiting from the existing disconnect are the pharmaceutical companies. In regards to oncology, there are specific problems present in their field felt more deeply than other specialties. This literature review will assess the current studies regarding methods of burnout and the impact of biotechnology, specifically pharmaceutical costs and the excess of information, in the practice of oncology. Oncologists suffer from one of the highest amounts of burnout, which is stress that results from the fragile interaction between the physician and their dying patients. The involvements with people, job setting, personal characteristics, and end of life care discussions are some of the job facets that cause higher amounts of burnout. Additionally, the costs of oncological drugs and the physicians’ attempts to analyze the cost-effectiveness of treatment also add to the stress felt by oncologists. Finally, the professional duty to maintain an extensive knowledge base of recently published data has resulted in information overload. Findings suggest multiple ways to reduce burnout rates, which are discussed in length. In regards to end of life care, there are communication changes physicians can make to improve the discourse for the benefit of the patient and physician. Literature has also presented ways for oncologists to combat the cost of cancer care not only by challenging the pharmaceutical companies, but also by ensuring their treatment and test choices are backed by evidence-based data. Finally, various methods to consolidate the influx of information have been suggested in addition to teaching medical students how to assess quality in the midst of quantity. All of the examined literature investigating the aforementioned plights of physicians, with a focus on the specialty of oncology, supports the need for a change within the medical profession. Specifically, this modification to the approach of patient care and physician welfare should be addressed starting in medical school. Through the application of the suggestions in this review, physicians would be upholding the Hippocratic Oath more stringently, thus benefiting the patients and their own vocation.