The dark side of calling: a partial test of the work as calling theory (WCT) using the veterinarian occupational well-being study (VOWS)

Moody, Adelyn B., author
Dik, Bryan J., advisor
Fisher, Gwenith, committee member
Conner, Bradley T., committee member
McGrew, Ashley K., committee member
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Although research on the concept of calling has blossomed in the last several decades, less is known about how and when having a calling may lead to less desirable outcomes (i.e., the so-called "dark side" of calling). Recently, the Work as Calling Theory (WCT - Duffy, Dik, Douglass, England, & Velez, 2018) proposed certain working conditions and individual characteristics that may lead to these negative outcomes. Many veterinarians experience lower psychological well-being (e.g., depression, thoughts of suicide, moral distress) as a result of occupational stressors and job characteristics. According to WCT, this may paradoxically be attributed to the reported likelihood that a high number of veterinarians find their work deeply meaningful and identify their work as a calling, often from a very early age. Using path analysis techniques with a sample of associate veterinarians (n = 149), the current study found support for the hypothesized relationships between living a calling and job satisfaction, which was mediated by the disengagement aspect of burnout. The relationship between living a calling and disengagement was found to be moderated by perfectionistic standards, in that, for individuals with both high perfectionistic standards and high sense of calling, increased disengagement was reported. Furthermore, while interpretation should be made with caution, the results indicated that the exhaustion subscale of burnout was also associated with living a calling and job satisfaction and acted as a mediator. Finally, the hypothesized moderators of living a calling and several characteristics of the work environment (i.e., coworker and supervisor support) and personality traits (i.e., conscientiousness, need for achievement, and self-esteem) demonstrated some relationships with burnout, and provide tentative, initial starting points to be more fully explored in other studies. This study contributes to the field in providing initial support for some of the proposed relationships within WCT and has several practical implications for veterinarians.
2022 Spring.
Includes bibliographical references.
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