Oncologists and fellows in hematology/oncology (HO) training programs report high levels of burnout. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education requires accredited programs to have a mechanism to foster well-being among fellows.
Through an iterative process involving a multidisciplinary committee, we created a 3-year longitudinal Art of Oncology (AOO) curriculum intended to address burnout and foster solidary among HO fellows. Sessions used narratives to promote the formation of a shared mental model through discussion of the mutual experience of caring for patients with cancer. We tested the feasibility, acceptability, and initial effectiveness of implementing the curriculum into traditional didactic lectures as a pilot intervention from 2018 to 2019. Eight sessions were completed.
Sixteen fellows participated. Most were married (63%) and planned on pursuing careers in academic medicine (75%). The sample was racially and ethnically diverse (31% minority representation). Thirty-eight percent of fellows reported burnout symptoms. AOO sessions had higher attendance than didactic lectures ( = .04). Of 14 fellows who completed all follow-up assessments (87.5% response rate), 93% (13 of 14 fellows) felt the sessions were very or somewhat helpful and that sessions improved solidarity. Preparedness in managing work-life balance significantly improved (paired test, mean difference, 0.53; = .04). Measured levels of burnout did not significantly improve from baseline (mean difference, -0.133; = .67). Work-life balance was associated with burnout on multivariable analysis (coefficient, 0.40; = .03).
The implementation of a dedicated AOO curriculum is feasible and viewed as helpful by HO fellows. Larger studies are needed to assess the efficacy of this curricular intervention.