Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. in Education

First Advisor

John A. Holleman

Second Advisor

Whitney Webb

Third Advisor

Marc Showalter


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



The study explores the lived experience of Resident Assistants at the University of Mississippi regarding stress, burnout, compassion satisfaction, and compassion fatigue to help improve paraprofessional development. The study addresses a scarcity of research on the prevalence and severity of RA’s stress and burnout in their roles as caregivers. A qualitative design approach was designed for this study to investigate insightful perspectives and implications of the complexities of stress, burnout, compassion satisfaction, and compassion fatigue among RAs at the University of Mississippi. For this study, 15 RAs were selected to participate in semi-structured interviews to facilitate for further probing questions and ascertain more in-depth responses to open-ended questions. Furthermore, participants were required to have served as an RA for a minimum of one semester in order to participate in the study. Findings indicate that RAs’ abilities to cope with stress, burnout, compassion satisfaction, and compassion fatigue clearly correlate with residents' successes that closely link to the rigors of RAs’ roles, duties, and job descriptions. Another finding suggests how building cohesiveness among RAs during staff training in early August was critical for duty and family crisis backup availability and readiness. Findings do not suggest that participants directly knew when they were experiencing compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue; however, their responses infer that caring for residents exposed RAs to many facets associated with the factors. The findings further reveal a significant need to help RAs identify resources to engage in self-care take time away from their residence halls, and acquire the necessary sleep to meet goals and objectives from the university, Department of Student Housing, residents, and participants. In sum, results from the findings are underpinned by participant comments. Participants provided rich and informative information that will benefit professionals working in the Department of Student Housing to gain a better understanding of the unintended consequences for RAs as paraprofessionals, while simultaneously supporting the development of other students, as far as elevated risks of RAs to develop stress, burnout, compassion satisfaction, and compassion fatigue.



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