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Child Development & Family Science
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Master's Graduate Publishes Thesis Research

Lisa Blumenthal graduated in 2020 with an MS in Family and Child Life after defending her thesis on compassion fatigue and burnout in the Child Life field. After graduating, she worked closely with Dr. Amy Claridge and Prof. Katy Tenhulzen to draft a manuscript of her thesis results. Their paper, "One Cannot Pour From an Empty Cup: Compassion Fatigue, Burnout, Compassion Satisfaction, and Coping Among Child Life Specialists" was published in the Journal of Child Life in March 2022. Congratulations, Lisa and faculty! 

Check out their contribution to the Child Life field here


Child life specialists provide support across various medical units and are frequently exposed to high-intensity, stressful, or traumatic situations. As such, they are at risk of developing burnout and compassion fatigue; however, limited research has examined the relationship between professional well-being of child life specialists and use of coping strategies. The present study examined professional quality of life, including compassion satisfaction, compassion fatigue, and burnout, using survey responses from 196 child life specialists across the United States and Canada to examine whether professional quality of life varied based on reported coping strategies, frequency of supervision and consultation, or hospital units on which participants worked. Results revealed use of avoidant coping strategies was associated with lower likelihood of compassion satisfaction and higher risk of compassion fatigue and burnout. On the other hand, more frequent consultation with colleagues was associated with higher likelihood of compassion satisfaction. Child life specialists who worked in hematology/oncology units reported higher risk of compassion fatigue than those on other medical units. This study provided several implications for practice to enhance child life specialists’ professional quality of life. Researchers should consider qualitative studies to better understand the professional quality of life of child life specialists in order to improve the delivery of quality, family-centered care.

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