Friday Speaker Series: Staci Defibaugh, Old Dominion University

Subject: Nurse Practitioners and Patient-Centered Care: What Linguistics Can Tell Us

Abstract: In the United States, primary medical care is often delivered not by medical doctors (MDs), but by Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician Assistants (PAs), both of which have been noticeably absent in the discourse analytic research of medical visits. Despite this gap in the linguistics research, there is a wealth of data in health communication scholarship on the effectiveness of NPs both in terms of high patient satisfaction ratings and positive health outcomes. This information is significant in understanding the effectiveness of NPs in the delivery of healthcare; however, because of the research goals and analytical focus, the reasons behind these positive results are not often addressed. In my research, I examine the linguistic practices of NPs in an attempt to bridge the disciplinary gap between linguistics and health communication research. In this presentation, I present an analysis of NP-patient interactions, occurring in both inpatient and outpatient settings, with particular focus on the linguistic features that define these interactions. Drawing also on the data of what is considered best practices in medical care, I use the concept of patient-cantered care to explain the ways that NPs seem to be successful in healthcare delivery. In this talk, I will focus on three ways in which NPs enact the patient-cantered approach including addressing patient education, delivery of medical critiques and directives and the ways that rapport is created through small talk. Analysis of the linguistic features of NP-patient interactions provides a greater understanding how healthcare is delivered in the US and how patient-centeredness gets accomplished.

 Bio: Staci Defibaugh is an Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics in the English Department at Old Dominion University. She received her PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015. Her research examines the interactional practices of nurse practitioner-patient visits, the role of neoliberalism in healthcare in the US, and the positioning of patients as being responsible for their health. Her research has been published in Discourse and Communication and The Journal of Pragmatics. Her forthcoming book, Nurse Practitioners and the Performance of Professional Competency will be available later this year.

Friday, October 27, 2017 at 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Poulton Hall, 230
1421 37th St., N.W., Washington

Event Type

Academic Events


Georgetown College, Linguistics


Staci Defibaugh

Open to the public and the press?


Event Contact Name

Jennie Brusstar

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