The Lived Experience of Being a Woman Doctor in Aotearoa/New Zealand (Aotearoa/NZ): An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis

Hilton, Jacqueline Wendy
Collens, Paula
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Master of Psychotherapy
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Auckland University of Technology

The objective of this study was to explore the lived experiences of three women doctors who had worked in medicine in Aotearoa/NZ for more than 20 years with a focus on the emotional aspect of their experiences. Data was collected via semi-structured interviews which were audio-recorded and transcribed. The resulting narratives were analysed using interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA). From an emotional perspective Hochschild’s concept of emotional labour was applied to the findings. This allowed emotions to be viewed through a sociocultural lens. The findings fell into three distinctive superordinate themes representing the societal, professional, and organisational dimensions of the women’s experiences. These superordinate themes were titled ‘Responsibilities of the medical role’, ‘Emotional management’ and ‘A pawn in a system’ respectively. The research captured stories which as well as being personal were embedded within a particular time in history. From a personal viewpoint the participants described a variety of emotions connected with medical work, while societal, professional, and organisational expectations influenced how these were managed. As far as I am aware, this is the first study that explores the lived experiences of women doctors of an older demographic and provides new insights for doctors, psychotherapists, and their employers.

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