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It seems that every year, the list of Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) requirements grows longer and more bewildering. That’s no surprise in oncology. Our patients are increasingly complex, our therapies are more numerous and more sophisticated, and the ACGME’s reach extends beyond medicine into patient safety, quality improvements, and understanding medical systems. In addition, there is the burgeoning list of required conferences, institutional demands, and the dawning of the electronic age, complete with electronic medical records, electronic admission, electronic discharge, electronic sign-in and sign-out, and electronic communication, all of which conspire to keep us at our laptops far longer than at the bedsides of our patients.
Add to this the stress of our clinical work. We try to satisfy the needs of our patients and their families, many of whom are facing life’s biggest crisis. They deserve more attention than our crowded and fragmented schedules will allow; this only heightens our stress. For the fellow, this stress can be still greater. There are the additional burdens of being less experienced, being less appreciated by families, struggling with difficult decision-making and poor outcomes, and managing the competing demands of patients, faculty, the fellowship program, and the fellow’s own family life.
Given the stresses and demands of our field, it is not surprising that the prevalence of burnout is high. Burnout is defined as emotional exhaustion, depersonalization (ie, treating patients as objects), and a low sense of accomplishment. However, there are many ways to maintain the deep satisfaction that comes with working with patients with cancer and their families and with our colleagues. Incorporating medical humanities into one’s medical practice and the fellowship curriculum is one such way. Medical humanities is simply application of history, literature, art, music, and other fine arts to the practice of medicine and the care of the patient.1
There is not much literature on this approach, particularly in oncology. Gilewski describes a forum for fellows at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center that focuses on end-of-life care and the stresses of such care on fellows and other caregivers.2 Sands et al reported on a narrative training course, in which members of a pediatric oncology team wrote about their own personal experiences with their patients.3 The 19 participants in this course displayed improved perspective on their patients’ problems, higher empathy scores, and better teamwork.
|Title||Expiration Date||CME Credits|
|Community Practice Connections™: 18th Annual International Lung Cancer Congress®||Oct 31, 2018||1.5|
|Provider and Caregiver Connection™: Addressing Patient Concerns While Managing Chemotherapy Induced Nausea and Vomiting||Oct 31, 2018||2.0|