As a medical sociologist, I am interested in the social construction of bodies and emotions. My overall research agenda explores the production of expert knowledge about medical socialization and its implication for the doctor-patient relationship.
My primary line of research explores the relationship between expertise and emotion in teaching and learning clinical skills in medical schools. My first book, Feeling Medicine: How the Pelvic Exam Shapes Medical Training (NYU Press, 2020) analyzes the history and current practices of gynecological teaching associates at three major medical schools in Chicago. GTAs are female-bodied individuals who teach medical students the pelvic examination using the GTA’s own body. They are part of a growing number of simulation-based teaching programs in medical schools that allow medical students to practice their examination skills without endangering real patients.
I am also involved with several research projects, including:
- Standardized Patient Assessment of Communication Skills: A Standardized Examinee Audit Study of Gendered and Racial Differences (Funded by the Stemmler Award of the National Board of Medical Examiners)
- Medical Students’ Strategies for Standardized Tests of Communication Skills: A Content Analysis (Funded by the CoAS Undergraduate Fellowship of Drexel University)
Underman, Kelly, Paige L. Sweet, and Claire Laurier Decoteau. 2017. “Custodial Citizenship in the Autism Omnibus Proceeding,” Sociological Forum, 32(3): 544–565.
Underman, Kelly, and Laura E. Hirshfield. 2016. “Detached Concern?: Emotional Socialization in Twenty-First Century Medical Education.” Social Science & Medicine, 160: 94–101.
Underman, Kelly. 2015. “Playing doctor: Simulation in Medical School as Affective Practice.” Social Science & Medicine 136: 180-188.
Underman, Kelly. 2011. “‘It’s the Knowledge That Puts You in Control’: The Embodied Labor of Gynecological Educators.” Gender & Society 25(4): 431-450.
Winner, Simmons Outstanding Dissertation Award, Section on Medical Sociology of the American Sociological Association
On the Web:
“Crafting the Physician-Body in Contemporary Medical Education” for the ASA Section on the Body & Embodiment Blog