RT: Radiologic science educators report less burnout than RTs

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Although radiologic science educators experience less job burnout than practicing radiologic technologists (RTs), there is a significant correlation between health status and burnout levels among the educators, according to survey results released in the July/August issue of Radiologic Technology.

The Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) was emailed to 241 members of the Association of Educators in Imaging and Radiologic Sciences. The MBI is designed to measure the three subdimensions of burnout in various occupations. Also, health status and demographic questions were added at the end of the MBI survey. The survey yielded a 62 percent response rate.

Jeffrey B. Killion, PhD, an associate professor at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, and colleagues measured burnout, or a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job, by three subscales: levels of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and personal accomplishment.

The authors reported that the “survey's results were mixed.”

The MBI survey indicated that radiologic science educators experience average levels of emotional exhaustion, low levels of feelings of depersonalization and average levels of feelings about personal accomplishment, when compared with a national norm group and practicing RTs. However, they noted that based on the self-reported health status of the study participants, there seemed to be a strong correlation between those who reported adverse health effects and those experiencing higher burnout levels.

For purposes of the study, the authors defined the ‘adverse health effect’ as the “characteristic that indicates declining health, such as heart disease, hypertension and gastrointestinal problems." According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, early warning signs of the health symptoms that indicate job stress include headaches, sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, short temper, upset stomach, job dissatisfaction and low morale.

Additionally, radiologic science educators reported that headaches, heartburn and increased blood pressure were the top three conditions that forced them to take medication, the authors said. Moreover, burnout may also affect the quality of education provided by the radiologic science educators.

The authors acknowledged that previous research has shown that educators who have greater job control experience less burnout. They also said that radiologic science education programs are generally small and the faculty members have a great deal of autonomy in their daily work.

"Still, it is important for educators to be aware of their stress levels, which can adversely affect their health,” Killion said.

The authors recommended further research to follow up on why radiologic science educators experience less burnout than practicing RTs. The study also outlined the need for further research on educators experiencing both high- and low-burnout levels to determine if the students' quality of education is affected, and to help address the health of radiologic science educators and similar groups.