Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Ministry (DMin)


Brian L. Bohlman


Burnout, First Responder, Chaplain, Chaplaincy, Police


Religion | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Police and fire chaplaincy comprises an emerging ministry profession that is underrepresented in academic study. This study addresses the problem of support structure inadequacies among First Responder Chaplains (FRCs) which create conditions that lead to burnout. The study examines their often-problematic connections to churches, denominations, and other endorsing agencies (sending sources). The purpose of the project is to assess those connections and provide remediation inadequacies. The thesis project examines Chaplaincy Organizational Agencies (COAs) and develops solutions for FRCs to build better initial and ongoing relationships with their sending sources. The thesis suggests that chaplains who are properly affirmed, supported, and sent into the mission field are less likely to suffer from the effects of isolation and therefore should experience lower rates of burnout. This study used the Francis Burnout Inventory as a quantitative tool to assess initial and follow-up burnout in twenty-seven FRC participants. The researcher compared responses between both iterations of the FBI to gauge the success of intervention methods. The researcher held qualitative interviews with each FRC and separate meetings with eleven sending source representatives and their FRCs to discuss solutions for building stronger relationships. The researcher used two focus groups with both the Tacoma-Pierce County Chaplaincy Executive Board (an FR chaplaincy COA) and one composed of several FRCs. The researcher sought concluding thoughts from participants with a final survey. The researcher used five hypotheses to assess the results of the study, offering several suggestions to build supportive relationships and reduce burnout in FRCs.