Background: The aim of this study was to understand the current and future challenges for the Australian medical oncologist workforce.
Methods: Utilising an on-line self-administered questionnaire, this cross-sectional study collected data from members of the Medical Oncology Group of Australia on workforce-related issues. Participants consisted of medical oncology specialist advanced trainees, early-career oncologists (ECOs), and medical oncology consultants.
Findings: Of the 633 members, 354 completed the questionnaire, representing a 55.9% response rate. Based on Medical Oncology Group of Australia membership, the number of medical oncologists has increased since the previous workforce study in 2009, with an uncertainty among junior medical oncologists regarding their future career prospects. The majority of participants worked in capital cities and metropolitan areas within the three most populous Australian states. Almost half (45%) of ECOs and consultants are undertaking or have completed a higher degree. A large number of advanced trainees (93%) and half of ECOs in this study were concerned about their future career prospects. For these participants, most were satisfied with the supervision they received (60% trainees and 69% ECOs) but only half of these participants (47% trainees and 52% ECOs) received any mentoring in their current or previous role. Compared to trainees and ECOs, consultants reported spending significantly more hours on administration per week; trainees 5.3 hours, ECOs 5.8 hours, consultants 7.5 hours (P <.031) and see a significantly greater number of patients per week; trainees 34 patients, ECOs 34 patients and consultants 49 patients (P <.001).
Interpretation: Workforce challenges were unique across different career stages in oncology; trainees, ECOs and consultants. Work intensity, mentorship and career prospects were amongst the emergent issues highlighted in this study.