LaTonya J. Trotter
Assistant Professor of Sociology
How do changes in the organization of health care both reflect and shape social inequality?
I am an ethnographer and sociologist of medicine whose work explores the relationship between changes in the organization of medical work and the reproduction of gender and racial inequality. The empirical terrain of these explorations ranges from intra-professional negotiations between medicine and nursing to organizational shifts in older adult care. In making connections between how we institutionalize medical work and how we organize social life, my work speaks to health policy concerns as well as to broader questions of social inequality.
My first book, More than Medicine: Nurse practitioners and the problems they solve for patients, health care organizations, and the state, investigates the relationship between the rise of the nurse practitioner and state disinvestment in social problems. The U.S. faces a health care crisis of both personnel and cost. Professional nursing has made the case--to state legislatures, insurers, and health care organizations--that nurse practitioners (NPs) are a key part of the solution. In More than Medicine, I investigate the shape of that solution through ethnographic attention to a group of NPs as they cared for 400 African-American older adults living with poor health and limited means. This account follows these NPs as they carried out a mix of professional and personal conceptions of nursing expertise as part of an interdisciplinary team of providers. Through attention to intra-professional negotiations, I develop an understanding of not only how these NP's embodied nursing practice, but how this embodiment was itself the grounds for larger contests over what it means to be cared for by health care organizations and the state.