Burnout and Extension Educators: Where We Are and Implications for Future Research
Burnout is identified as an individual work-related outcome that plagues educators within Cooperative Extension. Extension educators are particularly susceptible to burnout due to the unique set of demands and stressors they face, including geographic isolation, long work hours, prolonged driving times, and emotionally demanding interactions with clients, peers, local government, and administration. This review examines the literature relevant to Extension and burnout, discusses predictors and outcomes of burnout, and examines theories that have been used to investigate burnout. While studies have shed light on burnout within Extension from discipline and individual state perspectives, this review identifies the need for an updated examination of burnout with a regional or national scope. Additionally, job demands-resources theory is identified as a lens to better understand and explain burnout among Extension educators. As a prevalent issue that requires deeper understanding, the job demands-resources theory comprises principles from work motivation, job design, and job stress literatures and has been used to understand, explain, and make predictions about job burnout. At a time when issues related to Extension are front and center in academe and mainstream media, understanding burnout can help support the continued success of Extension. Other implications are also discussed.
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