School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Jeremiah Koester


Interrole Conflict, Social Work, Stress, Burnout


Social Work


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the phenomenon of interrole conflict for master level social work (MSW) students in the United States. The two theories guiding this study are role theory and theory of self-care. Role theory allowed a framework for what interrole conflict is and how it impacts individuals who experience it. Understanding role conflict aided in understanding the experience of MSW students during their academic journey. Theory of self- care allowed a framework for understanding how self-care can combat some of the negative results of interrole conflict such as burnout or secondary traumatic stress. This study explored the MSW student’s experience with role conflict. To study this phenomenon the researcher engaged participants (individuals who have graduated within the past 5 years) in a survey, interview, and focus groups to obtain details from their perspective on the experience of interrole conflict within the MSW journey. Participants were obtained from two social media groups: VCU School of Social Work-Student and Alumni Network and Black Therapists Rock. The results showed that the majority of the participants (11 out of 12) described their MSW journey as stressful in relation to the interrole conflict they experienced during their academic journey. When discussing how interrole conflict impacted their academic experience, participants reported experiencing negative consequences. Some of those negative consequences included mental health complications consisting of burnout, loss of personal time and time with family and friends, and financial insecurity.

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Social Work Commons