ERIC Number: ED358322
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992
Practice Makes Perfect: Emergency Medical Technicians and the Social Negotiation of a Skilled Occupational Identity. EQW Working Papers.
Nelsen, Bonalyn J.; Barley, Stephen R.
Most scholars adopt one of two orientations when explaining why some occupations are more skilled than others: realism or constructionism; both views would benefit from a consideration of interactionism. No occupations are more likely to have to negotiate their status than those that emerge from amateur or voluntary work. Members of such occupations, such as emergency medical technicians (EMTs), must convince their audiences in the course of face-to-face interaction that they have skill or knowledge sufficient to provide for a fee what has traditionally been free. A study focused on two commercial and two volunteer EMT agencies. The commercial agencies' actual proficiency was insufficient for establishing their reputation since some volunteers possessed equivalent skills and most of the emergency calls did not require advanced training. EMT societies made no distinction between paid and volunteer providers, and the public remained largely unaware of differences. To understand how and why the paid EMTs were acquiring a reputation for greater skills required consideration of cultural understandings, institutional supports, tasks, and even competencies as resources whose meaning and use were discovered in the course of ongoing interaction. Both groups' reputations were affected by interactions involving EMTs and interactions and interpretations of nurses, physicians, and other audiences. (Contains 90 references.) (YLB)
Descriptors: Allied Health Occupations Education, Emergency Medical Technicians, Emerging Occupations, Interaction, Job Skills, Medical Services, Occupational Information, Postsecondary Education, Professional Recognition, Skilled Occupations, Technological Advancement, Unskilled Occupations, Volunteers
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: National Center on the Educational Quality of the Workforce, Philadelphia, PA.