Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2 - 71

Understanding the Impact
of Resident Assistant Experiences on
Their Professional Quality of Life:
The Case for Increased Institutional Supports
THE ROLE OF A RESIDENT ASSISTANT is complex and multi-faceted, requiring
a unique blend of strong interpersonal skills and professional decorum. By contrast,
little is known about the depth of self-care needed to mitigate the impact of the
role on resident assistants' quality of life. This exploratory mixed-methods research
project seeks to determine the Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL) for resident
assistants. They were surveyed using a pre- (n = 106) and post-test (n = 115) across
a spring semester. Findings suggest that resident assistants experienced significant
ProQOL score changes across all three indicators: compassion satisfaction, burnout,
and secondary traumatic stress.
T
he CDC-Kaiser Adverse Childhood Experiences Survey (ACES) was implemented
in the mid-1990s, when 10 trauma categories were studied-rather than just
the typical few of research at the time-and participants indicated their level
of exposure to situations including interpersonal violence, sexual abuse, and neglect
(Dong et al., 2004). The sample was largely made up of educated, White, financially
comfortable adults (Felitti et al., 1998), and two-thirds of them reported at least one
traumatic experience. It stands to reason that the prevalence of trauma exposure would
only increase when additional risk factors such as minority status, low socioeconomic
status, and low educational achievement are included (Goodman et al., 2012; Hidalgo
& Davidson, 2000).
Trauma is becoming a critical public health issue and not only because of the
known mental and emotional impacts. In fact, research indicates that trauma is leading
to people living shorter lives and being affected by major illnesses such as cardiac
diseases, lung disease, liver disease, and diabetes among others (Felitti et al., 1998;
Goodwin & Stein, 2004). This is in addition to the more well-known side effects of
trauma exposure such as increased prevalence of depression, anxiety, personality
disorders, suicide attempts, and drug use (Ball & Links, 2009; Brady et al., 2004;
Brown et al., 1995; Forman-Hoffman et al., 2016). Suffice it to say that trauma is
worth understanding so that the needs of every community can be met.
Volume 48, No. 2 * 2022 71

Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2

Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2 - intro
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