Resilience & Burnout: Students vs Practicing Clinicians

Document Type


Publication Date



Physical Therapy


The purpose of this study was to identify and compare resilience levels between physical (SPTs), occupational (SOTs) and physician assistant (SPAs) students as well as between SPTs and practicing physical therapists (PTs). Methods: This non-experimental survey included 58 current SPTs, SOTs, SPAs, and 34 PTs. Surveys included the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC 10), and demographic questions. Student surveys were completed during the fall and spring semesters. Clinician surveys were completed once. Results: Independent t-test result indicated significant differences (P=.000) between SPTs and PTs with the MBI Emotional Exhaustion (MBI-EE) and MBI Depersonalization (MBI-DP) subscales; SPTs had significantly higher emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. ANOVA results indicated significant differences (P=.000; P=.001) with MBI-DP and MBI Personal Accomplishment (MBI-PA); post-hoc tests revealed SPTs had higher depersonalization and lower personal accomplishment than SOTs or SPAs. All student MBI-EE scores fell into the high category, but were not significant. No significant differences were reported in CD-RISC 10 scores between SPTs, SOTs and SPAs, or between SPTs and PTs. Top-reported student academic/non-academic stressors were workload (57) and finances/student debt (50), while top PT work/life stressors were difficult patients (21) and exercise/healthy diet (15). Top-reported student academic/non-academic coping strategies were exercise (38) and talking to friends/loved ones (38), while top PT work/life coping strategies were exercise/heathy diet (15; 24). Conclusion: All students had similar resilience scores (CD-RISC 10) to the PTs and what was reported in literature. SPTs had higher emotional exhaustion and depersonalization compared to PTs which indicated higher burnout. SPTs also had higher depersonalization and lower personal accomplishment compared to SOTs and SPAs which indicated higher burnout. However, all students reported high levels of emotional exhaustion, which indicated that students may need access to resources on campus and assistance from faculty during times of high stress during their professional programs.

First Advisor

Joy Karges-Brown

Research Area

Physical Therapy

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