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Issue Date: August 2016
Published Online: August 01, 2016
Updated: January 01, 2021
Professional Quality of Life in Occupational Therapists: Navigating the Dual Role of Fieldwork Educator and Practitioner
Author Affiliations
  • Tufts University
Article Information
Education of OTs and OTAs / Basic Research
Poster Session   |   August 01, 2016
Professional Quality of Life in Occupational Therapists: Navigating the Dual Role of Fieldwork Educator and Practitioner
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011505148. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.70S1-PO4123
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011505148. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.70S1-PO4123
Abstract

Date Presented 4/8/2016

Occupational therapy practitioners with the simultaneous role of fieldwork educator support the growth of the profession. Professional quality of life may be affected by this dual role. Those with the highest level of compassion satisfaction appear to be functioning in more roles.

Primary Author and Speaker: Emily A. Zeman

Contributing Author: Linda Tickle-Degnen

PURPOSE: The purposes of this study were to (1) assess the levels of compassion fatigue, burnout, and compassion satisfaction in occupational therapy practitioners in a dual professional role; (2) to examine the association of professional characteristics with compassion fatigue, burnout, and compassion satisfaction; and (3) to reveal the extent to which professional characteristics predict levels of compassion fatigue, burnout, and compassion satisfaction.
RATIONALE: The fieldwork educator role, coupled with full-time practice, is often considered to be a distinct and rewarding opportunity, which supports the growth of the occupational therapy profession. This dual role also brings stressors and challenges to prioritizing time, managing caseloads, and self-management. The therapist is called to guide the growth, participation, and independence of both patients and students. The dual role may contribute to stress and role strain, affecting patient care.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional, descriptive, correlational study design
PARTICIPANTS: Convenience sample of occupational therapy professionals in attendance at a regional continuing education workshop. Workshop advertised through email flyers, Listserv mailings, and website. Eligible to participate in study anonymously by returning surveys at end of workshop.
METHOD: The Professional Quality of Life Scale (ProQOL), Version 5, and a survey questionnaire including items about demographic and professional characteristics
ANALYSIS: Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the sample and compute levels of compassion fatigue, compassion satisfaction, and burnout. Intercorrelations were completed between independent variables and correlational analyses performed between independent and dependent variables for Research Aim 2. Multiple linear regression and stepwise regression analyses were used to answer Research Aim 3.
RESULTS: The findings of this study revealed a healthy professional quality of life, with ProQOL subscale results indicating low to average levels of burnout and compassion fatigue and average to high compassion satisfaction levels. Linear regression analyses revealed that a higher number of roles and higher number of years working predicted higher compassion satisfaction in the sample. Stepwise regression results in which the first variable entered was number of roles, accounted for 9.0% of the variance in the prediction of compassion satisfaction. The amount of years working accounted for an additional 5.0% of the variance in compassion satisfaction scores.
DISCUSSION: This study revealed specific professional characteristics that may predict an occupational therapy professional’s level of compassion satisfaction. Practitioners with the highest level of compassion satisfaction appear to be functioning in more roles, at an expert level. Findings are consistent with previous research indicating that a diversified workload, such as exercising roles of practitioner and fieldwork educator, along with years working, are relatively commanding factors in preventing burnout and feeling more satisfied with work.
IMPACT STATEMENT: Implications for practice include exploring the feasibility of a more rigorous, consistent approach to offering education about risk for burnout, as well as self-care strategies. It highlights the importance of expanding skill sets to other roles in one’s profession, such as educator.
This research contributes to understanding the experiences of occupational therapy practitioners in multiple roles and the potential for developing educational and organizational self-care interventions to support balanced professional quality of life.