The emerging of a professionalization process in health: the case of cardiopneumology technicians in Portugal
Ciências Sociais e Humanas - Área de Sociologia Escola Superior de Tecnologia da Saúde de Lisboa Lisboa, Portugal
This paper proposes to analyse the way the professionalization process of a group in the health sector ? specialized and possessing educational capital legitimized by higher education institutions ? raises new questions in what concerns the organization of labour, structured around medical dominance albeit in a manner distinctive from the traditional one. The paper submitted bears upon the findings of a research operacionalised on a case study within had been applied a diversified set of methods (documentary research, interview, observation and survey). The specific object is the group of cardiopneumology technicians in Portugal, whose work refers to performing a set of diagnostic examinations, both cardiovascular and pulmonary. The analysis set forth allows an approach from a particular angle (diagnostic and therapeutical technicians), one that has been hidden in the agenda of the sociology of professions in health, with scientific outcomes almost exclusively confined to medical doctors and nurses.
This is a group who as recently acquired mounting levels of specialized and academically legitimized knowledge, and to whom are delegate ever more tasks, formerly exclusive to the medical doctors? jurisdiction, that presuppose the use of conception analytical knowlwdge. That growing delegation is mostly originated in the increasing specialization occurring within the medical field, notwithstanding it also involves the expansion of this emerging group?s competencies as well as the progressive autonomy of their work, and their (relative) separation from the medical field. This process sets forward a professional project centred on the rising attainment of new specialized functions; on the growing autonomy concerning activity organization and regulation; on control access to the profession as a form of exclusiveness over specific skills and tasks; on the wider visibility of the socio-professional group.
With the dissemination of the research findings, revolving around a specific empirical reference object, this paper intends a reflexion on the contexts of change in the health sector and the occupational groups it includes. It does so by taking as a starting point the emerging of a professionalization process that is revealing variability and multidirectional evolution, and where one can observe diversified and often paradoxical tendencies according to different ways of labour organisation.