Impact on professional quality of life for burns unit staff caring for multiple limb amputee patients

Ania Smialkowski1 MD; Peter Haertsch2, OAM, MD, FRCS, FRACS; Peter Maitz3 OAM, MD, FRACS,

1 Concord Repatriation General Hospital Burns Unit, Level 7, Hospital Rd Concord NSW 2139;
2 Concord Repatriation General Hospital Burns Unit, Level 7, Hospital Rd Concord NSW 2139;
3 Concord Repatriation General Hospital Burns Unit, Level 7, Hospital Rd Concord NSW 2139;


The nature of working in a burns unit is often physically and emotionally demanding for staff. Professional quality of life is how a person feels in relation to their work and can be broken down into positive and negative aspects. Positive aspects include job satisfaction and the pleasure derived from doing your job well. Negative aspects include feelings such as difficulty in dealing with workload, frustration and exhaustion, and are associated with burnout and secondary traumatic stress. These negative feelings can progress to depression and other psychological issues if not addressed. Recently at our burns unit, three patients with four-limb amputation were treated during a simultaneous period. Caring for patients with multiple limb amputation is physically and emotionally demanding, and this period placed increased pressure on the department.


We have evaluated the positive and negative impact of caring for multiple limb amputee patients by staff in our burns unit using the ProQOL Scale. The results are divided into 3 categories: compassion satisfaction, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress, with outcomes being low (<43), average (44-56) or high (>57).


The results show that during this period, the level of job satisfaction was average (mean 51) and the levels of burnout and secondary traumatic stress were high (means 57 and 63 respectively).


The impact of caring for multiple patients exposed to significant traumatic events such as four-limb amputation has an overall negative effect on burns unit staff and measures to appropriately manage these feelings need to be employed.

Key Words

Burnout, Professional Quality of Life, compassion satisfaction, nursing, stress


Ania Smialkowski is an Unaccredited Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery trainee in Sydney who has recently worked at Concord Hospital Burns Unit


ANZBA is a not for profit organisation and the peak body for health professionals responsible for the care of the burn injured in Australia and New Zealand. ANZBA encourages higher standards of care through education, performance monitoring and research.

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