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School of Business and Management

Research Seminar Series: From zero to hero: Narratives of professional identity in times of Covid-19

When: Wednesday, November 4, 2020, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Where: Online, Zoom

Speaker: Dr Jenny K. Rodriguez

Join us as Dr Jenny K. Rodriguez, Alliance Manchester Business School, delivers the latest instalment in our Research Seminar Series: "From zero to hero: Narratives of professional identity in times of Covid-19".

Abstract: In this presentation, I discuss preliminary findings of a study into the professional identity of kinesiologists in Chile, which draws on 70 interviews with kinesiologists in an A&E hospital. Historically, kinesiology has been considered a "homeless" field with multiple agendas and in need of a clearer science-based orientation, where kinesiologists' work has been shadowed by the dominance of other healthcare professionals in occupations considered to be more traditional and established (e.g. doctors and nurses). In Chile, the profession has been framed in relation to sports' injury rehabilitation, which has led to public perceptions that kinesiologists are "masseurs with a degree". Following the pandemic, kinesiologists' expertise in mechanical ventilation and musculoskeletal pain has been central in the treatment and rehabilitation of COVID-19 patients. In the context of the most important global public health crisis, the demand for kinesiologists to support rehabilitation efforts in public hospitals in Chile has increased. Kinesiologists have joined diverse areas in A&E and have a firmer professional presence in medical teams as well as more recognition from public health authorities, the media, and the public. This newfound status as "unsung heroes of the pandemic" has led to talks of a "before and after the pandemic" in the professional standing of kinesiologists. We have explored perceptions about their professional identity, focusing on the narrative features of these before and after moments (e.g. career motivations, work trajectories, etc). Findings highlight the importance of occupational myths and identity customisation as narrative mechanisms mobilised by this group to give continuity and coherence to fragmented professional identity and the contradictions that these experiences raise for their perceptions about the occupation.

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