Identity and Stress in Emergency Medicine and Oncology

We are running an interview-based study to focus on the particular experiences of stress in the two specialties of Emergency Medicine and Oncology and implications for identity.  The particular focus for this study comes from two observations from the literature.

stress can be a “badge of honour” in emergency medicine

We note that stress can be a “badge of honour” in emergency medicine. Indeed this the title of one of the papers we often cite to illustrate the importance of not just studying stress but also its link with identity processes. In the paper, Heyworth (2004, p5) notes:

“The paradox of emergency medicine is that many of the factors which make our specialty such a stimulating and rewarding career can also generate stress when present in unrelenting excess.”

We are interested in going beyond just the effects of the amount of stress, but also to examine the implications of different kinds of stress that are faced in the Emergency Department. Some kinds of stressors may particularly contribute to the “stimulating and rewarding” aspects, and other kinds of stress may undermine wellbeing even in smaller doses.

Similarly we note that Oncology has an easily identified paradox relating to the nature of work stress. Manochakian (2014) is reflecting upon his first year as an oncologist and what he has learned.  He notes:

“… oncologists get frequently asked:’How can you do it?’ and ‘Isn’t it so hard to be a cancer doctor?’ […] yes it is hard, it is actually very hard as I try to be one of their tools while fighting cancer, but it is also an honour and a privilege.” (p637)

Similarly … Oncology has an easily identified paradox relating to the nature of work stress.

So in a similar way we are interested in understanding not just the cumulative effect of the stress of working in Oncology, but also the qualities of the different kinds of stressful experiences that are faced from day to day.

For this study we are looking for people who are willing to engage with us for an interview (no more than a half-hour).  We will do some face to face when convenient, but in the internet age we are also able to conduct Skype/FaceTime (or equivalent) interviews anywhere in the world.

If you would like to participate in this study, please let us know by signing up to our register.