Date of Award



© 2016 Charles Wakeling

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Marylin Newell

Second Advisor

Carol Burbank

Third Advisor

Daniel Johnson


There are a variety of barriers that psychiatric clinicians face when attempting to attend continuing education programming. The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological research study was to explore continuing education practices within the health care industry, specifically mental health care, with a focus on psychiatric clinicians’ perspectives on continuing education programming in rural Maine. For the purposes of this research study, mental health care was inclusive of behavioral health care and substance abuse treatment. This study defined the term “psychiatric clinician” to be inclusive of social workers, counselors, and therapists. The participant pool was comprised of 37 psychiatric clinicians employed at a non-profit acute care hospital that provides psychiatric hospital-based treatment services through a 100-bed inpatient setting and community-based mental health services through an outpatient setting. All but 2 of the 37 respondents (94.6%) agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that they understood what the requirements were; still 100% reported that attending continuing education programming was important both to them and to their professional practice. This is also the case regarding their own understanding and their perceptions of their organization’s understanding of their licensing requirements. There was a 50/50 split of psychiatric clinicians who attend continuing education programming to increase their clinical knowledge and skill to practice or to maintain their professional clinical license/certification. Participants communicated a genuine thirst for knowledge as well as an equally discouraging concern for being able to effectively maintain their professional clinical license. Participants shared that the top key barriers to participation in continuing education programming are direct patient care schedule (work commitments), geographic distance, cost, and relevance of the content. Organization support is another determining factor taken into account by psychiatric clinicians when planning to attend continuing education programming. Generalized perceptions of organization support show that there exists approximately a 75/25 split of support versus feeling of no support, however, direct conversations showed more of a 50/50 split surrounding the topic of organization support. This study provides some insight into some perceptions that psychiatric clinicians have toward current continuing education practice as well as recommendations for future action/practice and recommendation for future study.


Ed.D. Dissertation