Work-Family Fit: The Impact of Emergency Medical Services Work on the Family System
Prehospital Emergency Care
Roth, Sheila Gillespie and Moore, Crystal Dea, "Work-Family Fit: The Impact of Emergency Medical Services Work on the Family System" (2009). Social Work. 22.
The stress associated with a career in emergency medical services (EMS) can impact the work-family fit and function of the family system for EMS personnel. Little research has been conducted on how the demands associated with a career in EMS influences family life. Objective. To describe salient EMS work factors that can impact the family system.
Twelve family members (11 spouses and one parent) of EMS workers were interviewed using a semistructured qualitative interview guide that explored issues related to their family members' work that could impact the quality of family life. Using a phenomenological approach, transcribed interview data were examined for themes that illuminated factors that influence work-family fit.
Data analysis revealed that shift work impacts numerous aspects of family life, including marital and parental roles, leisure and social opportunities, and home schedules and rhythms. Furthermore, families coped with challenges associated with their loved one's EMS work through negotiating role responsibilities, developing their own interests, giving their family member "space," and providing support by listening and helping the EMS worker process his or her reactions to difficult work. In addition, family members reported concern over their EMS worker's physical safety.
Implications from the data are discussed vis-a-vis the work-family fit and family systems models. Education, communication, support systems, and individual interests are key ways to promote a healthy work-family fit.