Emotion Work in the Practice of Medicine: The Case of Physician Assistants of Color

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 11:20 AM
Room: F205
Distributed Paper
Darron SMITH , Physician Assistant Studies, University of Tennessee , Memphis, TN
Cardell JACOBSON , Sociology, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
We focus on the concepts of emotional labor or emotion work and white racial framing to describe the experiences of Physician Assistants (PAs) of color as they navigate racialized barriers in the medical field.  We first present results from a nationally representative sample of 15,275 PAs and then examine the more detailed personal experiences of PAs of color from an online survey.  Finally we use the personal narratives of ten African American PAs.  We identify and analyze emotion themes resulting from work-related experiences and stressful encounters that arise from interactions with faculty, staff, nurses, physicians, and patients in the workplace.  Odds ratios from the online survey show that African Americans experience more emotion work than other groups. African American PAs were 26 times more likely than white PAs to report patient refusals to treat them.  When we examined only Black women PAs, they were 46 times more likely to report patient refusals.  Other ethnic groups experience elevated levels of emotionally negative experience, but they were not always statistically significant when other variables were included in the analysis. Women in general experienced a variety of discriminatory behaviors. Narrative accounts exhibit large amounts of emotion as the African American PAs detailed their encounters with patients and medical providers.