An investigation of why osteopaths choose to leave the profession
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Citation:Kleinbaum, A. B. (2009). An investigation of why osteopaths choose to leave the profession. Unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Master of Osteopathy, Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
Permanent link to Research Bank record:http://hdl.handle.net/10652/1336
Introduction Osteopathy as a career provides opportunities in primary health care and can be very rewarding. Qualifying as an osteopath involves intensive study and application as well as a temporal and financial commitment by both the individual and the educational institution. A career in osteopathy carries no guarantees of permanency. Anecdotal evidence suggests that there is a small but significant loss from the profession. However, there is a paucity of research into this phenomenon. This study examined the phenomenon of osteopaths leaving the profession. Method This study employed a mixed method design of retrospective data review and interpretive thematic description. Descriptive historical data relating to numbers of practising osteopaths and attrition rates were gathered from osteopathic registration bodies in New Zealand, Australia, the UK and the USA to provide a background to the research. The purpose of the retrospective review was to discover what data were available and not to infer relationships within the data themselves. Purposive snowball sampling was employed to recruit interview participants. Results Key themes regarding leaving the profession were identified. These were divisible into factors over which an individual had no control (extrinsic) and factors related directly to the person’s personality and suitability for the practise of osteopathy (intrinsic). The theme of burnout was identified as a combination of both extrinsic and intrinsic factors. The overarching theme is that leaving the profession is a process resulting from both extrinsic and intrinsic factors and occurs over a period of time. Conclusion The participants’ decisions to leave the profession were usually initiated by accumulating factors and sealed by a specific event. This research has implications for educational institutions, for professional bodies and for individual osteopaths. These implications involve selection criteria for students, education curricula and professional support for practising osteopaths. Lastly, this research identifies key areas and factors that give individual osteopaths a better understanding of this phenomenon in relation to themselves and to the osteopathic profession.