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Quality of Life
required RA involvement. Evidence suggests that students with positive prosocial
behaviors and a positive sense of self flourish throughout their college experience
(Nelson & Padilla-Walker, 2013). Flourishing residents would understandably result
in RAs reporting less burnout and secondary traumatic stress as well as decreased
compassion satisfaction (Barnett et al., 2018).
RAs indicated in the qualitative research that a positive aspect of the job was
having a sense of purpose and accomplishment; these positive components would be
diminished if they began to feel unnecessary to their residents (Porter & Newman,
2016; Shaikh & Deschamps, 2006). Furthermore, the qualitative data showed that
RAs struggled with knowing that residents had negative assumptions about them
and would sometimes speak poorly of them. As RAs experience being unnecessary
and even unwanted, they may pull back from their work, resulting in less emotional
impact from negative events as well as less compassion satisfaction due to reduced
meaningful engagement.
Finally, it is possible that the quantitative data shows decreases in burnout and secondary
traumatic stress because RAs had significant support as they managed difficult
situations (Ahola et al., 2017). Due to continued training opportunities and the unique
hierarchical structure of the housing department, RAs were offered consistent resources
to assist them, in addition to a briefly implemented voluntary support group. Thus,
students in these roles may still have had slight decreases in compassion satisfaction
because of the continued difficulty of the job; however, the more critical impacts could
have been minimized due to a good system of support already in place. There may also
be some legitimacy to the idea that those who choose to become RAs have some inherent
ability to bounce back from emotionally challenging situations-an ability considered
and explored hereafter as compassion resilience. Perhaps this is due to an already
honed habit of successfully utilizing supports to manage stressors (Barnes et al., 2018;
Kuhl & Boyraz, 2017).
SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS
As the move to understand trauma and trauma-informed care continues, it behooves
institutions of higher education to apply trauma content (Hashmi et al., 2017) to the
trainings of its resident assistants to avoid burnout (Kattner, 2012; Paladino et al.,
2005; Stoner, 2017). Furthermore, infusing trauma content into existing work protocols
(Meilman & Hall, 2006) can help manage the impact of the demanding role
(McLaughlin, 2018; Rothschild, 2006). Ultimately, becoming knowledgeable and
promoting a culture of conversation (Lynch, 2017) regarding the nature of trauma
serves as an opportunity to build compassion resilience as a much-needed set of
professional skills (Simms, 2017).
The RAs who participated in this study had an opportunity to explore trauma and
its impact since the topic is infused in their official orientation for the role, explored in
their monthly staff meetings, and discussed freely during their supervision (Safstrom &
Hartig, 2013). This was done intentionally as a means to retain student employees
(Scheuermann & Ellett, 2007) and mitigate the duality of being both rule enforcer and
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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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