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Researcher Receives Grant to Explore Burnout Among Physician Assistants in Oncology

September 4, 2019

“This research will expand the understanding of burnout among oncology PAs and provide a foundation for the potential future development of effective interventions,” said Tetzlaff.“This research will expand the understanding of burnout among oncology PAs and provide a foundation for the potential future development of effective interventions,” said Tetzlaff.PHILADELPHIA (September 4, 2019) – Eric D. Tetzlaff, MHS, PA-C, a physician assistant at Fox Chase Cancer Center, has received a $15,000 three-year grant from The Association of Physician Assistants in Oncology to explore the role and impact of burnout among physician assistants working in oncology.

“This research will expand the understanding of burnout among oncology PAs and provide a foundation for the potential future development of effective interventions,” said Tetzlaff, who is in the Department of Hematology/Oncology.

The increased use of physician assistants (PAs) in oncology has been proposed as a solution to meeting an expected shortfall of oncologists. As the number of PAs in oncology increases, however, it will be important to understand characteristics of the PA workforce and its ability to meet this expected demand.

Previous research by Tetzlaff and his colleagues found a high rate of burnout among PAs in oncology. The researchers found burnout present in 34.8 percent of oncology PAs, with 30.4 percent reporting high emotional exhaustion, 17.6 percent reporting high depersonalization, and 19.6 percent reporting a low sense of personal accomplishment. Nonetheless, career and specialty satisfaction were high (86.4 percent and 88.8 percent, respectively).

Besides having adverse personal and professional effects for individual PAs, burnout may significantly impact the potential oncology workforce. Should burnout result in oncology PAs decreasing their work hours, pursuing early retirement, or changing fields or areas of specialization, that could further exacerbate the expected shortage in the oncology workforce.

A longitudinal study will be conducted to understand the impact of the attitudes of oncology PAs regarding teamwork, expectations for their professional role, type of collaborative practice, organizational context of the job environment, and moral distress, on burnout and career satisfaction.

       

The Hospital of Fox Chase Cancer Center and its affiliates (collectively “Fox Chase Cancer Center”), a member of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence five consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship and community outreach. It is the policy of Fox Chase Cancer Center that there shall be no exclusion from, or participation in, and no one denied the benefits of, the delivery of quality medical care on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, disability, age, ancestry, color, national origin, physical ability, level of education, or source of payment.
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